NEW YORK CITY: Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, whose beautiful clothes defined American elegance for generations and were beloved by first ladies and Hollywood stars, died on Monday (Tuesday in Manila). He was 82.
His company website bore only his trademark signature in white against a navy blue background.
US media reported his death at his home in Kent, Connecticut, quoting family members. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.
Earlier this month, his luxury brand announced that British-born designer Peter Copping would take over as creative director although that he would work closely with de la Renta on designing the next collection.
Schooled in the mastery of European couture, de la Renta worked until the end of his life, most recently designing the wedding dress for human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who wed Hollywood heart throb George Clooney in Venice last month.
One of the world’s most eminent designers, his frocks were worn by American first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, as well as film stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker.
Tributes quickly poured in from friends, celebrities and younger designers.
Former first lady Bush said she and her husband, George W. Bush, were “deeply saddened” by his death, saying he had designed the favorite clothes of her and her twin daughters.
“We will miss Oscar’s generous and warm personality, his charm, and his wonderful talents,” she said in a statement.
US singer Gloria Estefan said de la Renta had been “a big part of three of my life’s biggest moments.
Born on July 22, 1932 in the Dominican Republic, de la Renta left home 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 before moving to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden.
He created his eponymous label in 1965 and over the decades became one of the most lauded designers in New York.
He was twice president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and honored with a string of awards.
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, fragrances, 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.