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A.H.A. Honors de la Renta

NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta is showing a lot of heart these days — so much so that the American Heart Association honored him Tuesday night at its 90th anniversary celebration at the Waldorf-Astoria.<BR><BR>Not one for personal pageantry,...

NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta is showing a lot of heart these days — so much so that the American Heart Association honored him Tuesday night at its 90th anniversary celebration at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Not one for personal pageantry, de la Renta said he had no choice but to accept since the president of the A.H.A.’s board of directors, Dr. Valentine Fuster, is a “very good friend” and the designer’s cardiologist. If his buddy’s name and profession weren’t reason enough, de la Renta had the added incentive of the evening’s performer, Julio Iglesias. “Julio is like my brother,’’ de la Renta said. “We have known each other for many, many years. We spend a lot of time together in the Dominican Republic.”

After meeting through Placido Domingo, the pair became friends and have neighboring properties in the Dominican Republic. “Julio doesn’t play tennis, but he loves to be in the water,” de la Renta said.

Beyond his own cardiovascular activities, the designer is a proponent of the Heart Truth Red Dress campaign and escorted First Lady Laura Bush to its celebrity-studded runway show last Friday.

Kitty Carlisle Hart, another honoree, said, “I adore Oscar. He’s charming but he’s sincere. A lot of people are charming, you know, but they don’t really mean it.”

Liz Claiborne chief executive officer Paul Charron turned out, and said, “If I had to list excuses to come to a party, heart disease would be a good one and Oscar would be another.”

Charron was just back from the Super Bowl with Federated Department Store ceo Terry Lundgren, Saks Inc. chairman and ceo R. Brad Martin and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver. There, he also caught up with executives from Sears, Roebuck & Co., Calvin Klein, Nike and VF, as well as former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. “I spent more time talking to Barbara Bush, who had the Eagles by three in the family pool,” he said.