Dominican Republic Born Fashion Icon Dead At 82

The late fashion icon, Oscar De La Renta, c. (Facebook image)

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Oct. 21, 2014: As the news slowly trickled in of the passing of Dominican Republic-born fashion icon, Oscar De La Renta, fans began taking to social media to bid him adieu.

RIP,” wrote Ruth Ortiz Salcedo on the De La Renta page on Facebook. De La Renta reportedly passed away at his home in Kent, Connecticut. He was 82. No cause of death was reported by the designer had been battling cancer for the past ten years.

De La Renta was the only son of seven children in a middle-class household in Santo Domingo.

He was born to a Dominican mother of Spanish descent, Carmen María Antonia Fiallo and a Puerto Rican father, Óscar Avelino de la Renta.

At the age of 18, he left the Dominican Republic to study in Spain, where he studied painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. He quickly became interested in the world of fashion design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which soon led to an apprenticeship with Spain’s most renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga.

De La Renta considered Cristóbal Balenciaga his mentor and later left Spain to join Antonio del Castillo as a couture assistant at Lanvin in Paris.

He really made a name for himself in the 1960s when he dressed Jacqueline Kennedy after launching his ready-to-wear label in 1965 in New York

Other first ladies to wear his clothing included Nancy Reagan in the 1980s, Hillary Clinton in 1997 and Laura Bush in 2005. Michelle Obama finally wore one of his dresses this month. And his gown made their way on to the bodies of many celebrities for inaugural balls, premieres and award ceremonies including Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Kerry Washington and of course, the recent wedding of Amal Clooney.

In 1967 and 1968, de la Renta won the Coty Award (the US fashion industry ‘Oscars’) and in 1973 was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame.

From 1973 to 1976, and from 1986 to 1988, he served as President of the CFDA. He was also a two-time winner of the American Fashion Critic’s Award and was inducted into the Fame in 1973.

D e la Renta held dual citizenship in the Dominican Republic and the United States.

The Dominican Republic also honored him with the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella and the Order of Christopher Columbus. De la Renta founded the Casa del Niño orphanage in La Romana. He has contributed extensively in the construction of a much needed school near his home at the Punta Cana Resort and Club in Punta Cana.

He was an Ambassador-at-Large of the Dominican Republic.

De la Renta was married twice. His first wife, Francoise de Langlade, died in 1983, of bone cancer. Shortly after her death, he adopted a son from an orphanage in his native country. In 1989, he married socialite Annette Engelhard Reed, 74.

In 2006 he commented: “The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die. We always think we are going to live forever. The dying aspect we will never accept. The one thing about having this kind of warning is how you appreciate every single day of life.”