Oscar de la Renta dead: Legendary US fashion designer dies after long cancer battle aged 82

'I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant'

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He dressed Michelle Obama.  He was the friend of the Upper East Side ladies of Manhattan, giving them the gowns they desired and charming them at the season’s social events.  And he was also the doyen of the red carpet trusted by Hollywood even into the dotage of his career.  And he was worn by the bride of George Clooney.

Fashion world pays tribute

This morning, the fashion industry across the world will begin a long and warm farewell to Oscar de la Renta, who died on Monday at his home in Kent, Connecticut, at 82 years old.  His wife, Annette de la Renta confirmed his death from complications from cancer. To those not close to him, his passing will be a shock because his stock seemed to be at his peak.

Yet Mr de la Renta, with his high, tanned forehead, had been battling cancer for a decade.  It never seemed to slow him.  In New York, he was a fixture of the runway and the social circuit.  When the Anna Wintour held her fashion galas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he and Annette were there.  When Daphne Guinness showed her gowns and shows at the Fashion Institute in Manhattan, he was there.

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Spain during the Franco era, Mr de la Renta helped put New York on the fashion map in the seventies and eighties, alongside Paris and Milan.  And he never gave up striving to to ensure that his fashion house retained its relevance.

An alumnus of Cristobal Balenciaga and Elizabeth Arden before he broke away and set up his own label in Manhattan in 1965, he would later tell the Associated Press, “I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant”.

Marc Jacobs and Naomi Campbell celebrate De La Renta

Even as he ailed over the past decade, the business grew by 50 per cent to attain $150 million in sales.  It wasn’t just first ladies who chose his creations – aside from Mrs Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush chose the designer for their husbands’ respective inaugural balls - but also stars of stage, screen and television.  Sarah Jessica Parker, Penelope Cruz and Amy Adams all went to the Oscars at least once wearing Oscar de la Renta.

That he remained relevant to the end was his coup in taking into his trust perhaps the most prized bride of 2014.  When Amal Alamuddin arrived for her Italian nuptials to the American actor George Clooney, the ivory tulle gown picked by the ceremony was an Oscar de la Renta.