Debonair, elegant, with a touch of wicked and a heart of gold. That was Oscar de la Renta. With his European training and Latin charm, Oscar might have hailed from central casting when he emerged from Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door to become one of New York’s first designer personalities. His work kept him at the top. Oscar’s long tenure as a pillar of American fashion was defined by a simple principle—to help women look beautiful—yet marked to the end by currency rather than nostalgia. On Sept. 9, Oscar presented his last show, a treatise on optimism and light with flourishes of craft that approached couture. It was one of his best, reflecting beautifully his passion for his work, even through his illness—a battle he lost on Oct. 20. “To come to work every day is a huge, big privilege,” Oscar told WWD earlier this year. “Fifty years I have been doing this and I think I started yesterday.”
This story first appeared in the November 17, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.