Fashion World Remembers Oscar de la Renta as "True Gentleman," "Major Inspiration"
Designers, stylists — and one of his biggest fans, Barbara Walters — share their thoughts on the late designer with THR, calling him an "original artist" and "a mentor"
After news broke that Oscar de la Renta had died Monday evening at age 82, everyone from stars like Taylor Swift and Gloria Estefan to fashion insiders Joe Zee and Rebecca Minkoff expressed their condolences and appreciation for the late Dominican-American designer.
Evidenced by the heartfelt letters penned by Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, and the stars who have worn his one-of-a-kind designs, de la Renta left a legacy that will always be remembered by Hollywood and the fashion community.
Among the biggest stars to mourn his death was Barbara Walters, who recently sat front row at his show during September's New York Fashion Week.
"Oscar de la Renta was not just a creative and original artist he was also a great business man," Walters told The Hollywood Reporter. "He was most of all one of the wisest, kindest, and funniest friends you can have. All of us who had the pleasure of knowing him, have aching hearts today. Our thoughts are with his beloved Annette."
Designer Gilles Mendel also noted the indelible mark left by de la Renta. "Oscar was a tremendous inspiration to so many of us," Mendel said in a statement via email to THR. "He had started in New York designing a couture collection for Elizabeth Arden, which is where I opened my first fur salon when I arrived here myself 20 years later. Oscar was a great talent and a true gentleman, and will be missed by all."
De la Renta's close friend Diane von Furstenberg expressed the same sentiments: "Oscar was a couturier, an artist, a gentleman, a true Renaissance man. … His voice will continue to sing in our hearts!"
"This news has definitely come as a shock and has deeply saddened me," said Zac Posen in a statement via email. "Mr. de la Renta was one of America's greatest designers and he was an inspiration to the entire industry. His exceptional vision, outstanding integrity, and warm character will be immensely missed by everyone who knew him. My thoughts are with the de la Renta family."
Not only was he a talented designer, he also served as a major inspiration for those around him. "He was a mentor, a leader, a president of the CFDA, someone who inspired us all," Donna Karan told THR. "Oscar created a community wherever he went. It was a privilege to be part of his world."
Rachel Zoe, who posted a collage photo on her Instagram with a touching caption, added: "I cannot express the loss that so many across the fashion world and beyond have felt today. Oscar was one of the most extraordinary talents of our time with the most genuinely beautiful and kind soul. His passion and spirit for designing was incomparable and I will love and miss him deeply forever. May he Rest in Peace."
"What's most impressive about Mr. de la Renta is that after five decades in the business, he remained relevant throughout his entire career," Fashion Police co-host George Kotsiopoulos told THR. "From debutantes to dowagers, pop stars to princesses, starlets to socialites; he dedicated his life to making women look and feel wonderful."
Having met de la Renta several times, Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, co-founders and co-CEOs of Clique Media Inc, also shared their thoughts with us. "Mr. de la Renta was a one-of-a-kind talent and a true gentleman in every sense of the word. We had the honor of meeting him on a number of occasions, and he never failed to delight us with his intelligence, warmth, and sense of humor. It is impossible to express how beautiful Mr. de la Renta and his work made you feel: strong yet feminine, exquisitely appreciated, and effortlessly elegant. His impact on Hollywood, the fashion industry, and the world at large cannot be overstated. We are so truly saddened to hear of his passing," said Kerr and Power in a statement.
Red-carpet stylist Cristina Ehrlich, whose clients Tina Fey and Allison Williams regularly wore ODLR designs, said: "We have lost a such a exquisite talent, a true and rare gentleman who knew and understood how to allow a woman to dream and experience pure fantasy through fashion. My greatest inspiration. Rest in peace." Williams would likely agree with Ehrlich, as she told THR in 2013, "Wearing the Oscar dress at the Emmys was really special."
Oct. 22, 9:57 a.m. Updated with Zac Posen's statement