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Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dead at 82

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:19
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Designer Oscar de la Renta, one of the biggest names in the fashion industry over the last half century, has died at the age of 82, a family member told ABC News on Monday - PHOTO: REUTERS

[New York] Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, whose beautifully made evening wear was beloved by US first ladies, has died at 82, US media reported on Monday.  The Dominican-born American fashion icon, who dressed first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Laura Bush, most recently designed the wedding dress for human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who wed Hollywood heart throb George Clooney. 

A sophisticated, sartorial choice for A-list movie stars on the red carpet and wealthy socialites, he was also the go-to man for something elegant for actress and fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker, of Sex And The City fame. 

The designer reportedly passed away at his home in Connecticut but worked right up to the end of his life. 

The cause of death was not immediately clear but he had been diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago. Earlier this month, British-born designer Peter Copping was announced as creative director of Oscar de la Renta. His company website late Monday bore only his trademark signature in white against a navy blue background.  

De La Renta himself was photographed in October’s edition of American Vogue alongside Amal Clooney trying on her wedding dress in his New York studio.  Tributes quickly poured in from around the world mourning the loss of one of America’s most eminent designers. “RIP iconic designer Oscar De La Renta, who was a big part of 3 of my life’s biggest moments. Much love and peace 2 his family and all who loved him!” wrote US singer Gloria Estefan on Twitter.  

Born on July 22, 1932 in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, he travelled to Spain as an 18-year-old to study in Madrid and work as an apprentice to Cristobal Balenciaga.  In 1960, he moved to France to become an assistant at Lanvin in Paris, where he embedded himself in the world of haute couture, before moving to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden. 

He created his eponymous label in 1965 and became one of the most lauded designers in New York, where he was twice president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The CFDA honoured him with a string of awards, including a lifetime achievement prize in 1999. 

In a career that spanned five decades, de la Renta saw his company grow into a multi-million-dollar empire that included ready to wear, fragrance, a home line and a bridal collection, which he launched in 2006. He married twice, first in 1967 to Francoise de Langlade, an editor at French Vogue and in 1989, six years after her death he married American publisher Annette Reed.