What can one possibly add to the abundance of tributes to Oscar de la Renta following his death last month? He was, as WWD declared on its front page, “an American master” and there was not a person who knew him—personally or professionally—who did not laud the elegance, sophistication and romantic beauty of his designs, his devotion to women, his vibrant charm, grace, dignity and joie de vivre. We were fortunate to know him and count him as a friend at FIT.
Over the years, he was a critic, a frequent guest lecturer, and to our great benefit, in 1986 he established the Francoise de la Renta Color Room to honor his late wife. His company consistently offered internships to our students. Indeed, this giant of the fashion industry has had an outsized influence on generations of FIT students. We were delighted to be able to award him an honorary degree in 2002. Ten years later, the Couture Council honored him with its Artistry of Fashion award. I last saw him in September at the 2014 Couture Council luncheon in which we honored his good friend Carolina Herrera, and although he was, by then, more visibly frail, he was as elegant as ever—as full of fun and kindness and laughter as ever.
We will miss his great talent and good heart as we remember the man who was a privilege and pleasure to know.