Caribbean Role Model – Oscar De La Renta – RIP

Go Lean Commentary

The world mourns the passing of Oscar De La Renta (1932 – 2014; age 82), the Dominican American fashion designer that became internationally known in the 1960s as one of the couturiers who dressed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. He was an award-winning designer who worked for Paris fashion houses Lanvin and Balmain; but is better known for his eponymous fashion house as he continued to dress leading figures, from film stars and world leaders to royalty [19], right up to weeks before his death – he dressed Amal Alamuddin for her September 27th wedding to George Clooney.

De La Renta was born in the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo; he remained committed and impassioned to assist his homeland, despite his permanence in the New York metropolitan area. He was a stalwart of the NYC fashion scene.

The world’s media duly recognized his passing yesterday (Monday October 20) and the contribution of his life. The following productions feature a news story and a newscast of his passing and obituary of his legacy:

1. Title: Oscar De la Renta, legendary designer, dead at 82
CU Blog - Caribbean Role Model - Oscar De La Renta - RIP - Photo 1NEW YORK (AP) — At his Fashion Week runway show in September, Oscar De La Renta sat in his usual spot: in a chair right inside the wings, where he could carefully inspect each model just as she was about to emerge in one of his sumptuous, impeccably constructed designs.

At the end of the show, the legendary designer himself emerged, supported by two of his models. He didn’t walk on his own, and didn’t go far, but he was beaming from ear to ear. He gave each model a peck on the cheek, and then returned to the wings, where models and staff could be heard cheering him enthusiastically.

De La Renta, who dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, died Monday evening at his Connecticut home at age 82, only six weeks after that runway show. But not before another high-profile honor was bestowed on him: The most famous bride in the world, Amal Alamuddin, wore a custom, off-the-shoulder De La Renta gown to wed George Clooney in Venice. Photos of the smiling designer perched on a table at the dress fitting appeared in Vogue.

De La Renta died surrounded by family, friends and “more than a few dogs,” according to a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen. The statement did not specify a cause of death, but De La Renta had spoken in the past of having cancer.

“He died exactly as he lived: with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms,” the statement said. “While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. … All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit.”

The late ’60s and early ’70s were a defining moment in U.S. fashion as New York-based designers carved out a look of their own that was finally taken seriously by Europeans. De La Renta and his peers, including the late Bill Blass, Halston and Geoffrey Beene, defined American style then and now.

De La Renta’s specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favored by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors.

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama notably wore a De La Renta dress for the first time. De La Renta had criticized her several years earlier for not wearing an American label to a state dinner in 2011.

Among Obama’s predecessors favoring De La Renta were Laura Bush, who wore an icy blue gown by De La Renta to the 2005 inaugural ball, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wore a gold De La Renta in 1997.

“We will miss Oscar’s generous and warm personality, his charm, and his wonderful talents.” Bush said in a statement. ” We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful.”

A statement from former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, said: “Oscar’s remarkable eye was matched only by his generous heart. His legacy of philanthropy extended from children in his home country who now have access to education and health care, to some of New   York’s finest artists whose creativity has been sustained through his support.”

De La Renta made just as big a name for himself on the Hollywood red carpet — with actresses of all ages. Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock were among the celebrities to don his feminine and opulent gowns. His clothes even were woven into episodes of “Sex and the City,” with its style icon, Carrie Bradshaw, comparing his designs to poetry.

One actress who wore a De La Renta gown to this year’s Oscars was Jennifer Garner.

“Mr. De La Renta loved women,” she said on Monday evening, wiping away tears. “And you saw it in every design that he did. He honored women’s features, he honored our bodies. He wasn’t afraid to pull back and let the woman be the star of the look.”

De La Renta was also deeply admired by his fellow designers. “He set the bar,” designer Dennis Basso said on Instagram Monday night. “But most of all he was a refined elegant gentleman.”

The designer’s path to New York’s Seventh Avenue took an unlikely route: He left his native Dominican Republic at 18 to study painting in Spain, but soon became sidetracked by fashion. The wife of the U.S. ambassador saw some of his sketches and asked him to make a dress for her daughter — a dress that landed on the cover of Life magazine.

That led to an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, and then De La Renta moved to France to work for Lanvin. By 1963, he was working for Elizabeth Arden couture in New York, and in 1965 he launched his own label.

He told The Associated Press in 2004 that his Hispanic roots had worked their way into his designs.

“I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant,” he said.

While De La Renta made Manhattan his primary home, he often visited the Dominican Republic and kept a home there. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour was a frequent visitor.

CU Blog - Caribbean Role Model - Oscar De La Renta - RIP - Photo 2“His designs reflected his extraordinary personality: optimistic, fun, sunny, romantic,” Wintour wrote in a remembrance on Tuesday. “He always said accept your friends for who they are, not for who you want them to be. Oscar was everything you could want a friend to be. ”

He also had a country home in Kent, Connecticut, where he died Monday. Gardening and dancing were among his favorite diversions from work. “I’m a very restless person. I’m always doing something. The creative process never stops,” he said.

As a designer, De La Renta catered to his socialite friends and neighbors — he and his wife, Annette, were fixtures on the black-tie charity circuit — but he did make occasional efforts to reach the masses, including launching a mid-priced line in 2004 and developing a dozen or so perfumes.

He was an avid patron of the arts, serving as a board member of The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, among others, and he devoted considerable time to children’s charities, including New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.

The Dominican Republic honored de la Renta with the Order of Merit of Juan Pablo Duarte and the order of Cristobol Colon. In the United States, he received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award twice, was named womens-wear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000 and also received a lifetime achievement award from the CFDA — an organization for which he served as president in the 1980s.

Besides his own label, De La Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house, and he was awarded the French Legion of Honor with the rank of commander. He also received the Gold Medal Award from the King and Queen of Spain.

De La Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to the Bolens, but he remained active and continued to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.

De La Renta also is survived by his son, Moises, a designer at the company.

De La Renta’s first wife, French Vogue editor Francoise de Langlade, died in 1983.

Associated Press Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles also contributed to this report.
AP News Source (Retrieved October 21, 2014) –


2. Video: NBC News Video –

Oscar De La Renta impacted the fashion world with his contributions. He was awarded numerous honors and awards from around the world. This man of Caribbean heritage impacted the whole world.

In 1977, De La Renta launched his fragrance, OSCAR,[20] followed by an accessories line in 2001[21] and a home-wares line in 2002.[22] The new business venture included 100 home furnishings for Century Furniture featuring dining tables, upholstered chairs, and couches. In 2004, he added a less expensive line of clothing called O Oscar. De la Renta said he wanted to attract new customers whom he could not reach before.[23]

In 2006, De La Renta designed Tortuga Bay, a boutique hotel at Punta Cana Resort and Club. Tortuga Bay is a Leading Small Hotel of the World.[24] and a member of Virtuoso.[25]

The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean recognize the life contributions of Oscar De La Renta as an artist, entrepreneur, industrialist and advocate for many causes that align with our quest for empowerment and elevation of Caribbean life and culture. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The CU seeks to also empower the people of the Caribbean to lead more impactful lives in which they are better able to meet their needs and plan for a productive future. The Go Lean roadmap seeks to put Caribbean people in a place of better command-and-control of their circumstances, to develop the community ethos of assisting each other to advance in our own lives, in our individual communities and in the Caribbean as a whole.

Like Oscar De La Renta, the prime directive of the Go Lean book is also to elevate society, but instead of impacting America, the roadmap focus is the Caribbean first. In fact, the declarative statements are as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Oscar De La Renta is hereby recognized as a role model that the rest of the Caribbean can emulate. He has provided a successful track record of forging change, overcoming incredible odds, managing crises to successful conclusions and paying forward to benefit the next generation. The Go Lean book posits that while economics, security and governance are all important for the sustenance of Caribbean life, pursuits like fashion, poetry, art, and beauty are the reasons we want to live. Oscar De La Renta stood as a vanguard for many of these pursuits.

The book posits that one person, despite his/her field of endeavor, can make a difference in the Caribbean, and its impact on the world; that there are many opportunities where one champion, one advocate, can elevate society. In this light, the book features 144 different advocacies, so there is inspiration for the “next” Oscar De La Renta to emerge, establish and excel right here at home in the Caribbean.

The roadmap specifically encourages the region, to lean-in and foster this “next” generation of Oscar De La Renta’s with these specific community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies:

Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Intellectual Property Page 31
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness – Cultural Promotion Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Anatomy of Advocacies Page 122
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade Page 128
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Caribbean Image Page 129
Planning – Lessons from New York City – Fashion Industry Impact Page 137
Advocacy – Ways to Better Provide Clothing Page 163
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood – Image Management Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Beauty Pageants – Fashion & Economic Output Page 204
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Appendix – New York City Economy – Fashion Economic Impact/Jobs Page 277

Fashion and clothing are priorities in the Go Lean roadmap. While food, clothing, shelter and energy are vital essentials of life, finding efficient solutions for home-spun delivery of these needs is a basis for generating wealth. The change stemming from this roadmap constitute a commitment and facilitation to provide many of our basic needs ourselves. This vision creates a lot of opportunities for contributions from a lot of different people. This quest is pronounced early in the Declaration of Interdependence at the outset of the book, pronouncing this need for regional solutions (Pages 13 & 14) with these statements:

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxx. Whereas the effects of globalization can be felt in every aspect of Caribbean life, from the acquisition of food and clothing, to the ubiquity of ICT, the region cannot only consume, it is imperative that our lands also produce and add to the international community, even if doing so requires some sacrifice and subsidy.

With the participation of many advocates on many different paths for progress, the Caribbean can truly become a better place to live, work and play.

Rest in Peace Oscar De La Renta. Thank you for making “us” look good.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Referenced Sources:

19. Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia on Oscar De La Renta. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from:
20. “Óscar de la Renta 1977”. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
21. “Óscar de la Renta 2001”. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
22. “Óscar de la Renta 2002”. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
23. Feature. Retrieved 26 Sep 2013.  from
24. “Luxury Hotels of the World at The Leading Hotels of the World”. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
25. “Specialists in the Art of Travel, Luxury Travel Advisors”. Virtuoso (Luxury Travel Advisory). Retrieved 13 August 2012.

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