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Friday, February 21st 2014

Exclusive Interview: Oscar de la Renta

Rightly deemed the “Guru of Glamour,” Oscar de la Renta has been designing for more than 40 years and shows no signs of losing momentum. He is constantly expanding his label in order to reach new customers, never failing to produce works of sophistication and unreserved femininity on and off the runway. We talked to Oscar de la Renta about his passion for ready-to-wear and the inspiration behind his latest jewelry collection.

Shopbop: Growing up, you were interested in art. What sparked your change in focus from painting to fashion design?
Oscar de la Renta: While I was attending art school in Madrid, I started doing fashion sketches to make money. I was lucky enough to meet Cristobal Balenciaga through friends, and he gave me my first job in fashion.

SB: How did you decide to bring accessories into your label?
ODLR: I love accessories—you can completely change the look of an outfit just by switching the jewelry. It’s interesting: even though I am a designer of clothes, when I see a woman, I always look at her accessories to see if she is well dressed.

SB: We love your jewelry line. It’s the perfect balance of exotic detail and feminine refinement. What elements do you try to incorporate into every piece?
ODLR: I have always been drawn to bigger pieces. When I design ready-to-wear as well as jewelry, I like things that are bold and vibrant—I never hold back in my designs.

SB: You have dressed first ladies Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush. What features of haute couture translate into your ready-to-wear lines?
ODLR: Couture is where I got my start, but my heart is in ready-to-wear. When I was still at Lanvin in the ’60s, I started to see a shift in the way women were dressing. Factories would come to Paris, buy couture patterns, remake them and sell them to women in New York. I knew ready-to-wear was the future of fashion. Today the houses that make haute couture don’t make couture to sell couture; they make it to sell other products. Ready-to-wear is a very specific thing—it is clothing that you can buy in your size. I always think of my customer when I am designing.

SB: With such unique and wide-ranging designs, you seem to have put something out there for everyone. What is one accessory you believe every woman needs?
ODLR: I think a beautiful pair of face-framing earrings is unbelievably elegant. 

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