A bold move from the romance of Paris to the shores of New York, with a vision that ready-to wear was the next big thing, Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta could not have imagined the impact he was going to have on the lives of the women worldwide.Over an illustrious 50-year career, with a claim that he hates the word ‘retiring’, Rosemin Manji discovers what it takes for him to stay inspired, challenged and relevant.
What makes Oscar de la Renta tick?
When I am not designing clothes, I love to spend time at my homes in Connecticut and the Dominican Republic. I always have a project at the house, mostly outside working in my gardens.I love to garden; it has taught me many things that I bring to my everyday life, namely, the importance of nurturing and most importantly patience.
What does a woman represent to you?
Strength, beauty and femininity.
How do you spend a typical day at work?
The best time for me is when I am working with my assistants in New York. No two days are ever the same but everyday is a learning process.
What has been the biggest challenge in your professional life?
The biggest challenge for me as a designer is do the best that I can for a woman who is evolving and changing in extraordinary ways.That woman challenges me everyday.
You inspire many in the world of fashion but who inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is today’s woman. Never before have women been more in control of their destiny. She is truly the most exceptional source of inspiration.
How do you maintain the strength of the ‘Oscar De La Renta’ brand in this competitive market?
In fashion, the most important thing is to stay true to your vision. If I have had success it is because I’ve never forgotten who I am and where I come from.
What are the best and most special collections you have made throughout your career?
I am constantly looking forward. Today, I feel that I am a much better designer than I was twenty years ago. I’ve learned to be a better editor of myself.
You have dressed Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Reagan, Mrs. Bush, and Sarah Jessica Parker; among others. How does it feel when a celebrity wears your clothes?
I have been truly fortunate to dress a number of distingushed women throughout my career and each time it brings me great joy. When a woman chooses to wear one of my designs, it is such a tremendous honor.
Your designs are available worldwide including GCC countries with stores in Dubai. How do you consider your presence in the Middle East and GCC region?
The Middle East is an extremely important market for us. We are happy with the success of our boutique in Dubai and we have just opened in Riyadh this past spring. I love the sensibility of Middle Eastern women and I would love to open more stores in the region.
Which part of your job makes you feel the happiest?
I just turned 80 this year and over 50 of those years, I am proud to say, I have been privileged to work in a business that I deeply love. I have always considered that my role as a designer is to make a woman look and feel her very best.That makes me happier than anything else.I am unbelievably lucky.