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Dancing and Dressing No More; Oscar de la Renta Dead at 82

Dead from cancer is Oscar Aristes Renta Fiallo, fashion designer and business mogul extraordinaire.

Born into a prominent Dominican Republic Spanish Family, de la Renta at age 16 moved to Spain to study art, but the fates had a different plan.  His talent for sketching and design took him to the Paris designer scene (that’s Paris, France, not Paris, Texas which proudly proclaims itself “the world’s second largest Paris”  complete with Eiffel Tower (but with red cowboy hat on top). In 1963 he moved to New York with a shortened name, “Renta” is his family name.

A shrewd businessman, de la Renta saw the real money in fashion lay in ready-to-wear.  While he dressed First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Laura Bush, his fortune came off-the-rack. He accepted every challenge to make them look good.  Over time de la Renta expanded his brand beyond clothing to other luxury items including perfume, fashion accessories, and furniture.  The success of de la Renta offers many lessons for entrepreneurs.

De la Renta freely offered advice, including famously telling Hillary Clinton not to wear black –  “It makes you look too tough.”  He told his runway models, “Walk like you have three men walking behind you.”  We ODD ones scratched our heads on this one for a while, but concluded that it was related to de la Renta’s Latin heritage, and attraction to the female rump.

Gone is the Sultan of Sauvé, and also right up until the end, a very good dancer.

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