Oscar de la Renta
“The Sultan of Suave,” “Couture Conquistador,” and “Guru of Glamour” are but three of the complimentary monikers Oscar de la Renta answered to in the course of his long and starry career. It began in Spain, chez Cristóbal Balenciaga; traversed Paris (where he worked at Lanvin); and landed him—with an armful of letters of introduction—in New York City in 1963. There, he was heralded as “a comet on the American style scene,” because he moved about “in swift and remarkably high circles for so young a man.”
De la Renta was noted for his knack for combining old-world craftsmanship with modernity. There was a distinctive Latin flair to his embellishments. Although he clearly had a taste for traditional costume and the folkloric—European peasant embroidery appeared in his collections with frequency—everything he did had an elevated air of polish, panache, and propriety. And the appeal of his clothes was such that they crossed continents and the political aisle: De la Renta dressed two consecutive First Ladies, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, on their second Inauguration Days.