Hispanic DesignersOscar de la Renta

de la Renta Woman's Dress



Oscar de la Renta (b. 1932), son of a Dominican Republic insurance agent and his wife, traveled to Madrid, Spain, at the age of 17 to study art. He wanted to be a painter, and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses to pay for his art studies. He first thought seriously about a career in fashion when he designed a debutante gown for the daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain. A photographic story of the party to which she wore it appeared in Life magazine. Soon after, he landed a job at Eisa, Balenciaga's couture house in Madrid.

In 1961, he was hired as an assistant by Antonio del Castillo at the Lanvin-Castillo couture house in Paris. Following the same course as Castillo, de la Renta moved to New York in 1963 to design the custom-made collection at Elizabeth Arden. In 1965, he joined the wholesale house of Jane Derby, and became a partner in the business. After Derby's retirement in 1967, he changed the name of the company and produced luxury women's ready-to-wear. De la Renta became known for his feminine, romantic, and dramatic evening clothes utilizing elaborate fabrics and embroideries

In 1993 de la Renta was hired by the House of Balmain to design their couture collection, becoming the first American designer since Mainbocher to design couture in Paris, France.