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Oscar de la Renta: Putting Latin America on Fashion's Radar

Oscar de la Renta: Putting Latin America on Fashion's Radar

Posted by Juan Gavasa on October 22, 2014

Best known for his high fashion, Oscar de la Renta, was one of Latin America's most famous cultural icons, although many may not have known about his roots until reading obituaries following his death, age 82, Monday.

Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, tweeted four times about his fellow countryman. “The country is in mourning,” and “your parting leaves a vacuum impossible to fill,” tweeted the President. Furthermore, Medina wrote, he was a “great defender of national interests.”

EFE news agency reported that Medina wrote a letter to de la Renta's widow, Anne France Engelhard de la Renta, which described the designer as “the Dominican with the widest universal impact of all time, and a natural, excellent ambassador for our country, which loved him so.”

His 10 year fight with cancer did not stop de la Renta working. Despite handing over the management reigns of his company last year, he still designed, and has been quoted saying “If I retire, I will die […] My great happiness is being in my studio with my assistants.”

After apprenticeships with Balenciaga and Lanvin, de la Renta's designs were noticed by former First Lady, and fashion icon, Jacqueline Kennedy, turning his name into a recognized brand. He has dressed every U.S. First Lady of the past few decades, as well as monarchs and high society, famously claiming “Fashion is not politics.”

De la Renta was also known for his appreciation of women. “I learn from women. It's extraordinary what has happened with them in the past forty years, going from housewives to becoming part of all social activities. I feel proud to have been a witness to their advances,” he once remarked.

Floral, feminine and elegant, always with a thoughtful silhouette, his dresses became synonymous with timeless, modern style, which borrowed “sexiness from his Latin heritage and tempering it with a demure cut learned in Europe,” writes British Vogue.

Sentiments have flocked in from his fans all over the globe, one of the most heartfelt coming from his muse Naty Abascal who told EFE he was “unique, honest, humble, simple, with a huge heart, unlike anyone else in the world.”

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