Research Paper: Oscar De La Renta

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Oscar de la Renta is one of the most successful and long-lived designers in the fashion industry. He was born on July 22, 1932 in the Dominican Republic, and at a young age took to painting.

The masters Cristobal Balenciaga and Antonio Castillo trained him at age 18 in Spain. He first rose to fame during the 1960s; when First Lady Jackie Kennedy wore his evening wear to White House functions. When he was deciding at this young age whether to study in the house of Christian Dior in New York, or to design custom clothes for Elizabeth Arden, he decided to go with Elizabeth Arden. If he had studied under Dior, then his work would always be eclipsed by Dior's renown that grew worldwide in the 1950s. This early decision set the path not only for Oscar de la Renta to grow in his position as fashion designer, but also as the head designer of his house. Oscar de la Renta went solo as a designer in 1965 and has managed his own fashion house in New York ever since. He is one of the most important fashion designers for red carpet and gown wear in the past fifty years, and has perfected his clientele and quality of line to become the most expensive store in America at his New York location.

Oscar De La Renta's customer profile was most definitely wealthy white women throughout the majority of his life. Even though he is mainly a ready to wear designer, his clothing is meant for the upper crust of society. He has styled looks for some of the world's most famous individuals, such as Jackie Kennedy, Barbara Walters, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Jessica Parker. His line did begin to appeal to younger women starting with a perfume line in 1977. Today, some of his looks can be found for middle-income women, but the majority of his focus is still on the wealthy. He segments his market by having several different lines today, including O. Oscar, created in 2004 for an American market, Oscar de la Renta for children, beginning in Spring 2012, and Oscar by Oscar de la Renta for a commercial line. His primary line, Oscar de la Renta created in 1965, is still his most feminine and red carpet oriented line. Although he is still the head designer for his fashion line, he handed over his title of chief executive to his son in law in 2004, and now remains as chairman.

The colors of Oscar de la Renta are very Spanish influenced, and include colors like bold blues and spicy deep reds.

He often uses exotic flourishes, such as embroidery, fringe or sequins. He is not afraid to bring in cross-cultural highlights into his clothes. He pioneered the era of ethnic clothing in the 1970s by including Russian and Gypsie traditional styles in his high-end lines, while maintaining the silhouette he is known best for. He has also been known to use ruffles in interesting and exotic ways. Because so many of his looks are red carpet oriented, he does not experiment too much with new fabrics or patterns. He also does not mix masculine tones into his women's wear; he has always remained an extremely feminine designer. Oscar de la Renta also works with fur in his fall/winter collections, and uses a lot of texture in his outerwear. He also uses silk, lace, and rouching in many of his pieces.

Oscar De La Renta's trend was evening wear and red carpet gowns for society affairs. In 1967, he married Francoise de Langlade, the editor of French Vogue in 1967, which proved to keep him in the company of high society throughout his life. She died in 1983 of bone cancer, and changed the life of Oscar de la Renta forever. The next year he decided to adopt a child, and he became a family man, and remarried to Annette Reed in 1989. He has several children, both step children from his marriage, as well as an adopted child from 1983. He maintained his high profile life, however, and continued on his successful business throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He was featured on a Oscar de la Renta specialized in ball gowns and had the most famous clientele of the era as his own.

Oscar de la Renta learned his craft in Spain, and is heavily influenced by French design principles and his present day American habitat. He uses many Spanish touches in his dresses, and learned how to make the most precise and perfect dresses from a young age. He does not use modern fabrics very often, and keeps a traditional look and feel for his clients. Although he does not use the most recent fabrics, Oscar de la Renta has always used the finest materials in his clothing, and uses tailoring to achieve attractive profiles. In the 1970s, he introduced the ethnic look with many Russian and gypsy designs that he found traveling in Eastern Europe. His designs had a big impact on the decade and made way for more exploration in different genres of historical clothing around the world by other designers.

Despite his constant activity in the world of high society for the past fifty years, Oscar de la Renta has also given back to the community that raised him.

He has a charity financed for over 30 years that maintains a charity day school in the Dominican Republic that houses over 350 children daily. Oscar de la Renta has also been granted the Dominican Republic's highest honor for distinguished citizens, the Order de Merito de Juan Pablo Duarte. He has received CFDA awards since the 1970s, which honor fashion designers each year in a red carpet event that maintains a very exclusive atmosphere from another era. He maintains close connections to the Hispanic community and often visits and draws inspiration from Latin America and Spain.

Oscar de la Renta has prices that range from the extreme to the affordable, especially in the past decade as technology has permitted his designs to be mass-produced in China with great quality. The custom made designs that are the highlight of Oscar de la Renta can cost from $3,000 to $15,000, and even more depending on the piece.

This price point is clearly out of reach for the vast majority of the world, but his experience and timeless style has maintained its appeal even into the 21st century. The average shopper at Oscar de la Renta's store on Madison Avenue spends $3,217, which makes it the most expensive store in America. The lower priced line, Oscar by Oscar de la Renta, keeps prices from $300 to $1,500, and while still appealing to a high income clientele, is clearly intended for a much larger market. These ready to wear clothes are the ones that are usually found in outlets like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales, and are located in more cities around the world than the high-priced Oscar de la Renta line. The other lines, including furniture, and childrens clothing, are priced in order to hit this same group. The furniture is from $500 to $5,000, and the children's clothing is from $100 to $500. Oscar de la Renta is also available at marginal prices in several outlet locations, as a result of over production and over supply. These items can be gotten for 10% to 50% off sometimes.

Oscar de la Renta has said that his work is influenced by his youth in the Dominican Republican, where he saw enormous poverty but also enormous beauty. He was an artist and a painter at a young age, and knew that he would always be in the creative field. He was able to secure a prestigious job at a design house in Spain when he was 18 working for Balenciaga, a master of fashion at his time, and he knew the path that was set before him even from this early age. He finds influence by traveling all over the world, he has been a prolific traveller and has explored all through the Americas, Asia, and Europe in search of design inspiration. He maintains his connections with his roots in the Dominican Republic. He has also reprised a role on Sex and the City, which helped bring him his household name for the average American woman who was watching that highly successful show.

In my opinion the most amazing things about Oscar de la Renta is his youth and what the world must have been like to have studied under Balenciaga, and work at Lanvin in the 1960s.

To have competed with Christian Dior and to have seen how fast and how widespread fashion changed during the past fifty years. He has been successful and highly regarded throughout the entire time, and his appeal and style have evolved, but have maintained the same inspirations that can be seen in Oscar de la Renta's early work. The fact that he was able to command a client base that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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