Oscar de la Renta Biography

Oscar de la Renta, a renowned Dominican American fashion designer, rose to fame through his impeccable couture designs and exquisite creations. With a passion for fashion that surpassed his initial training in abstract art, de la Renta honed his skills under the guidance of esteemed designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga and Antonio Castillo. His journey led him to work with prestigious brands like Lanvin and Christian Dior in Paris before venturing into ready-to-wear couture. With the support of Elizabeth Arden, de la Renta established his own name in the industry, becoming a favorite of Vogue magazine and earning the title of the “guru of fashion.” Throughout his career, he dressed influential figures such as Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Cindy Crawford, and Sarah Jessica Parker, leaving a lasting impact with his flattering and feminine designs. Recognized for his exceptional talent, de la Renta received numerous accolades, including the Coty Award, CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, and Fragrance Foundation’s Perennial Success Award. His legacy extends beyond fashion, as he also created legendary fragrances, heavenly accessories, and perfect homeware.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo
  • Died At Age: 82
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Annette Engelhard, Françoise de Langlade
    • Father: Puerto Rican
    • Mother: Maria Antonia Fiallo
    • Siblings: Aristides Fiallo Cabral, Fabio Fiallo
    • Children: Eliza Bolen, Moises de la Renta
  • Fashion Designers
  • Fashion Entrepreneurs
  • Died on: October 20, 2014
  • Place of death: Kent, Connecticut, United States
  • Ancestry: Dominican American, Spanish American
  • Notable Alumni: Real Academia De Bellas Artes De San Fernando
  • Cause of Death: Cancer
  • City: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Casa del Nino orphanage
  • More Facts
  • Education: Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando
  • Awards:
    • 1990 – CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award
    • 1973 – American Fashion Critic’s Award
    • Order of Juan Pablo Duarte
    • Order of Cristóbal Colón

Childhood & Early Years

Oscar de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to a Dominican mother, Maria Antonia Fiallo, and a Puerto Rican father, Oscar Avelino de la Renta. He belonged to a family of poets, scholars, mayors, and highly successful individuals. He was raised in a middle-class environment, and his father worked as an insurance agent. At the age of 17, Renta was sent to Spain to Academia de San Fernando. He aspired to become an abstract painter. De la Renta soon entered the fashion world and started designing for major Spanish fashion houses. He was hired as an apprentice by Spanish fashion genius, Cristobal Balenciaga, who became his mentor.


In 1959, de la Renta left Spain to assist Antonio Castillo at Lanvin in Paris. He was also recruited by Christian Dior while he was still in Paris. During this time, his work was highly influenced by Balenciaga. He visited New York City in 1962 and while he was at a ball with his friend Count Lanfranco Rasponi, he was offered a job by American fashion designer Elizabeth Arden. In 1963, he made his debut with the brand Elizabeth Arden, and one of his designs was taken up by Helmut Newton for the following year’s American Vogue edition. Despite the success that he gathered at Elizabeth Arden, de la Renta joined Jane Derby, with a 33 percent stake in the company in 1965. The same year, heiress Anne Ford wore his embroidered, ermine-edged wedding dress. Soon, he became famous with Vogue, and his photograph was published in the 1967 edition. He also won the Coty Award for his ‘Road of Spices’ collection that he launched in that year. In the following year, he managed to win a second Coty award for his ‘Belle Epoque’ collection and also received the Italian fashion industry’s Tiberius award. In 1973, de la Renta was chosen as the President of the CFDA and was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame. He also became one of the five designers to represent America at the Versailles fashion show. De la Renta designed uniforms and interiors for Casa de Campo, a hotel in La Romana, in Santo Domingo in 1975. And in the following year, ‘OSCAR’ fragrance made its debut in the fashion market. In 1982, with all the fame and money he had achieved, de la Renta tried to pay back to society by founding La Casa del Niño for underprivileged Dominican children with his friend Xiomara Menendez.

During the early 1990s, he received the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, ‘Oscar’ the perfume won the Fragrance Foundation’s Perennial Success Award, and he got into a deal with ‘Balmain’ to design their couture and ready-to-wear collection. In 1993, de la Renta was honored with the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute’s Gold Medal, and in the same year, he made his debut with ‘Balmain’ couture as the first American designer to head a French house. Towards the end of the 1990s, he was honored with the American Society of Perfumers Living Legend Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. He also dressed Hillary Clinton for the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton. In 2000, more accolades came de la Renta’s way as he won the Gold Medal of Bellas Artes, received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, and earned the CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. The designer created uniforms for the Dominican Republic’s police force and launched his new furniture line in 2002, and in the following year, de la Renta received the Marymount University’s Designer of the Year Award. In 2004, de la Renta was named Designer of the Year by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, and ‘OSCAR’ the fragrance was inducted into the Fragrance Foundation’s Hall of Fame. In the following year, he was honored by the American Heart Association and accepted the City College of New York’s Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He also earned the Accessories Council’s Designer of the Year Award. During the late 2000s, de la Renta received the Fashion Group International’s Superstar Award, Colleague’s Champion of Children Award, and the ‘Runway to Green’ fashion show closed with an eco-friendly wedding dress designed by him.

Major Works

Besides designing haute couture for celebrities and Vogue features, working for the most reputed fashion house ‘Balmain’ and designing accessories and a homeware line, de la Renta’s fragrance ‘OSCAR’ brought him much fame and many prestigious awards.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1967, de la Renta got married to Francoise de Langlade, who was an editor-in-chief of French Vogue. It was her third marriage, and the marriage ended when she died in 1983 due to cancer. De la Renta got married for the second time to Annette Engelhard in 1989. He had stepchildren from both marriages and has an adopted son, Moises de la Renta. He passed away due to cancer on 20th October 2014 at Kent, Connecticut.


  • His stepdaughter, Eliza Bolen, is the Vice President of Licensing at Oscar de la Renta, LLC.
  • He has been honored with the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella and the Order of Christopher Columbus.
  • He also produced a less expensive line of clothing called ‘O Oscar’.
  • Renta went to Diana Vreeland, the editor-in-chief of Vogue for advice in 1963, saying that what he really wanted was to “get into ready to wear, because that’s where the money is”. Vreeland replied, “Then go to Arden because you will make your reputation faster. She is not a designer, so she will promote you. At other places, you will always be eclipsed by the name of Dior.”
  • In the show ‘Sex and the City’ in 2003, it was shown that Carrie Bradshaw received a gift of a de la Renta dress by de la Renta himself.

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