NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta isn't going anywhere.
The designer on Tuesday told WWD he has no plans to retire, rebuffing a published report that suggested he might step down from his company and that his runway show on Monday would be his last.
De la Renta, who is completing treatment for an undisclosed medical condition, said, "If I retire, what the heck would I do? I love my wife, but we'd chew each other up if I had nothing to do."
De la Renta also dismissed a rumor cited in a report, on the Web site radaronline.com, that Lars Nilsson would be tapped as the firm's creative director.
"There is absolutely zero truth to that. Lars worked with me at Pierre Balmain for a while, but he is not part of my present or my future." (De la Renta held Balmain's creative reins from 1992 to 2002.)
The Nilsson rumor followed on the heels of one earlier this summer that Olivier Theyskens might join the company, which de la Renta denied at the time. "I am a control freak. How could I give my collection to someone else to do?"
As for his health, the designer, 74, said, "I'm feeling great," adding he has been at work every day designing and preparing for sales of the spring collection.
In addition to nixing retirement rumors, de la Renta said he is not contemplating a sale of the business. "We haven't realized the full potential of this business yet. We've opened four stores this past year and we plan to open more. We're looking at Madrid, Moscow, the West Coast and other locations. And sales of the last resort collection doubled."
In recent years, de la Renta's namesake Seventh Avenue house has been experiencing a growth spurt, and the designer has been able to bring in a new customer while continuing to maintain his core base.
De la Renta's collection business has estimated sales of $100 million, while licensing rakes in an additional estimated $650 million at retail. Over the past two years, the company has made an aggressive push into freestanding retail, opening units on Madison Avenue; at the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y.; in Bal Harbour, Fla., and in Las Vegas. The designer also launched a bridal collection in-house last May, and entered the e-commerce business earlier this month.Licenses include O Oscar with Kellwood, fragrance with YSL Beauté and sunglasses, furniture, tabletop, china and wallpaper. De la Renta is adding a home fragrance this fall.
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia