He had worked at Lanvin, Elizabeth Arden and of course under his own name - being the dress maker in New York and simply referred to as Oscar by my former fashion illustration professor at FIT - Karen. He was an icon of the New York fashion scene.
I found this amazing interview from Interview Magazine - by Jeanette Longoria from their June 1977 issue.Read the entire interview here. Below are my favourite passages.
LONGORIA: Were you inspired by all of the colorful things where you grew up, in Santo Domingo?
DE LA RENTA: I suppose that that's part of my background. I come from a very warm island, where colors are very important, very vibrant, and obviously the color has been an influence on my work.
LONGORIA: Tell me, I know you've been off Garment Avenue for a long time, but I've read that you were called the Grandfather of Fashion before you were 40. What exactly does that mean?
DE LA RENTA: I don't know. I would like better to be known as the Godfather of Fashion, with all the implications that that word has.
LONGORIA: It seems a little premature to call you a grandfather.
DE LA RENTA: Well, the boys in the islands are very precocious, you know, so...
LONGORIA: What would you say is the most fun about being a designer? Meeting wonderful women like me?
DE LA RENTA: I think the most fun, the most excitement, is when you are three days from showing a collection.
LONGORIA: I think people would be interested in hearing about your home in Santo Domingo. I've seen photographs in magazines, although I've never been there.
DE LA RENTA: That place is actually called La Romana. Everyone says Santo Domingo, but that is actually the name of the city —the country is the Dominican Republic, and the place where I am is La Romana. It's a resort that is very beautiful, very unspoiled, very few people, and the house is very nice.
LONGORIA: I've heard that you've done a lot for an orphanage...
DE LA RENTA: That's probably why I'm called The Grandfather. I have an orphanage in the Dominican Republic with 354 children. We started from scratch, really, and now it's marvelously well organized. When asked to describe what it is, I always say "It's a very poor version of Boy's Town of Omaha" ... what was his name, Father Flanagan, who founded that? It's self-supporting now, almost. I raised the money to build the dormitories abd the schools, but it's in the countryside and they raise their own chickens, and eggs, and vegetables.
LONGORIA: That's wonderful. I'd love to see it
DE LA RENTA: You will have to come, so you can see the un-frivolous side of me.