Oscar de la Renta was more than just a designer
His name was synonymous with class and style
His influence spread to film and TV
Oscar de la Renta was far from just a fashion designer.
The man who died Monday at the age of 82 was as much an icon as some of the celebrities he dressed over the years. From haute couture to causal wear, his name became synonymous with glamour and style. After he spent decades making the beautiful all the more so, he became a part of the zeitgeist.
The following are five examples of the designer’s influence on pop culture.
1. On the small screen
Fans of “Sex and the City” often tuned in as much for the style lessons as for the spicy plotlines.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw helped put Manolo Blahnik shoes on the map and had viewers trying to emulate some of her looks. Devotees can quote from season six when Bradshaw’s artist boyfriend, Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov), casually mentions his friendship with de la Renta.
“Oscar? You … you call him Oscar?” Carrie asks Aleksandr, stunned.
He later gifts her with an Oscar de la Renta dress, scoring points with us all.
Parker wore one of the designer’s gowns at this year’s Met Gala. It was literally a signature piece, as she had de la Renta’s John Hancock etched on the back.
“I said to Mr. De la Renta, please let me use scarlet embroidery thread and splash your name across the back,” the actress told Vanity Fair. “It was my idea. He would never in a million years have done it; he’s far too modest.”
2. In the music industry
Hip-hop often finds rappers waxing about luxury.
So it’s no surprise that more than a few incorporated the designer into their lyrics. Whether it’s Nicki Minaj musing about being “front row at Oscar de la Renta” or Kanye West’s clever word play – “especially if she can’t get that dress from Oscar de la Renta they wouldn’t rent her” – many artists used his name to express the good life.
3. With the movers and shakers
His fashions were a favorite of this country’s first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Hillary Clinton, and he continued to draw the rich and powerful even in his later years.
Celebs like Beyonce and Victoria Beckham were often spotted at his shows, and some, like Oprah Winfrey, clamored to be photographed with the man who dressed them so elegantly.
“So sad for the loss of this legend. Oscar de la Renta thank for all the beauty and inspiration you shared with us,” “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia tweeted.
4. At the movies
Who can forget the scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” in which Meryl Streep as fashion editor Miranda Priestly explains to her assistant Andy Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway) how high fashion filters down to the masses – including the blue sweater she is wearing.
“You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns,” the tough-as-nails Priestly says. “And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.”
5. Among the people
His jeans were hot in the 1980s, and his brand encompasses everything from fragrance to sleepwear. Though his name often showed up in the media for designing Amal Clooney’s wedding gown or dressing stars on the red carpet, de la Renta’s style was also available to the much less famous.
For that, we’ll all remember him.