Remembering Oscar de la Renta

Like a lot of memories, some of the details are foggy. These images are from sometime around 2000, when Oscar de la Renta visited our Seattle flagship upon the launch of one of his fragrance collections. The snapshots of the designer and our employees were taken at a luncheon that preceded an in-store appearance.

And while the date of this particular moment is lost, what remains—what will always remain—is how the designer made us feel.

“Mr. de la Renta was the consummate gentleman in the industry; he understood how to make women look and feel beautiful. His work created a visual fantasy of sorts, but always with a nod to realism so you could be confident and enjoy the moment. His work was never confused with any other designer as it had a true signature: subtle but always recognizable in shape, pattern, color and construction. He also was one of the first brave American couturiers to explore beyond evening into sportswear, although he was always known for his beautiful evening pieces. The definition of couture was in transition in the ’80s; the French previously owned the category, but Mr. de la Renta gave credibility to American couture and elevated it, not just in terms of the quality of his collections and his construction, but also because he was so charismatic and charming.” —Sue Patneaude, Executive Vice President, Designer Women’s Apparel (retired)

“What I remember about meeting Oscar de la Renta in 2002 is his smile and quiet elegance.” —Kylie Allensworth, Internal Communications Director

“Mr. de la Renta was the first guest designer to come into the Jeffrey Fashion Cares fund-raiser in Atlanta. He was amazing that night with all of his fans; he was such a gentleman in every way.” —Jeffrey Kalinsky, Vice President, Designer Fashion Director

“What’s amazing about Oscar is that his reach went beyond his own collection. He had such influence on and was such a positive role model for American designers. Not that they ever tried to be him, but he was so well thought of. The biggest compliment to him, and to the business he built, is that women wear his clothes because they make them feel beautiful and feminine; his brand can continue because there is such a strong sense of what Oscar de la Renta stands for. We just had a big luncheon for Oscar de la Renta clients here in Seattle. He was not here for that, but his business has never been bigger or better. Even though the brand has been around since the late ’60s, it remains relevant, and I think that says something.” —Jennifer Wheeler, Vice President, Corporate Merchandise Manager, Women’s Designer Apparel

Image via New York Times