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Oscar de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo of Spanish parents and received his education in Santo Domingo and Madrid. After obtaining his scholastic degree, he remained in Madrid to study art at the Academia de San Fernando.
He intended to become a painter, but chose fashion design when Cristobal Balenciaga engaged him on the staff of AISA, the Balenciaga couture house in Madrid.
In 1961, Antonio Castillo, the Spaniard then designing for Lanvin-Castillo in Paris, brought de la Renta to France as his assistant. Two years later, in 1963, de la Renta followed Castillo as designer of the Elizabeth Arden couture and ready-to-wear collection in New York. In 1965, Osacr de la Renta and the American designer Jane Derby formed an alliance which evolved, after Darby’s retirement and subsequent death, into the present de la Renta organization.
In 1980, de la Renta donated his time for two years as the primary designer of a complete new set of uniforms for the Boy Scouts of America.
Since his beginnings on the American fashion scene, Oscar de la Renta was recognized as a dominant talent. In 1967 he received the “Winnie,” the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, with recognition of his Russian and gypsy fashion themes. The very next year, in an unprecedented decision, the Coty jury of prominent fashion editors voted a second “Winnie,” called the Return Award, to Oscar de la Renta, citing other highly influential trends he launched that year: his Belle Epoch fashions, inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec and the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, and his use of transparent fabrics. In 1971, Oscar de la Renta received the Award of the American Printed Fabrics Council for his distinguished use of prints and leadership in current fashion. In May 2002, de la Renta was awarded the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
The President of the Dominican Republic honored Oscar de la Renta with the order of Juan Pablo Duarte, grado Cabellero, and the order of Cristobal Colon, grado de Gran Commandante, for being one of his country‚Äôs most distinguished citizens.
In July 2004, de la Renta handed over the title of Chief Executive to his son-in-law Alex Bolen, who is married to de la Renta’s stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen. Bolen has worked with Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. De la Renta retains the title of Chairman and will remain very active in all aspects of the business, not only design.
The fashion firm Oscar de la Renta, Ltd. today includes over 80 different product lines, such as: high fashion women’s wear, a line of men‚Äôs clothing, luxury blouses, household linens, home sewing patterns, scarves, belts, furs, sun glasses, optical frames, shoes, lounge-wear and fragrances.