#de la renta
Anna Wintour Remembers Oscar de la Renta
Oscar and Annette de la Renta at home in Connecticut.
Photographed by François Halard, Vogue, December 2008
There is much being said that his passing yesterday marks the end of an era. Not true. He was the most democratic man I knew and he would have lived happily and defined any era. He was happy dining with the rich and famous, for sure, but equally happy playing dominoes with his devoted staff. His designs reflected his extraordinary personality: optimistic, fun, sunny, romantic. At dinner this summer—just the two of us—he told fascinating stories about his life in Paris and later working for Miss Arden who apparently always called Helena Rubinstein that woman. The conversation became more serious and he told me he felt he had had the most amazing life and he was not afraid. This strength must have been with him in the hospital last week when he made the decision to turn off treatment; it was not the quality of life he wanted.
And then, last weekend, [my daughter] Bee and I went up to Kent to see him. We laughed about Bee s love life. He gave her advice, and then he said he had a dream to see the allée and pond he had just designed on the grounds. He could no longer move, so we went out and took pictures on his iPad for him to see and ate a chicken sandwich with [his wife] Annette and Janet, his extraordinary nurse. His last words to me were I love you, and I said I love you back.
He never once complained about his illness, always positive, always looking forward. He was a tireless philanthropist—he and Annette supported so many charities, some quite small and under the radar—and the most generous friend. Dinners in Paris when he was designing for Balmain would start with the two of us and end up twenty or more. He would ask the concierge to dinner rather than dine alone. There were glorious times in Punta Cana, always dancing, always singing, taking the kids out to swim with the dolphins when they were little, always happy to include ten more people for dinner, always the phone call to say thank you and to gossip, so thrilled to make Amal s dress. He was determined to come to [my son] Charlie s wedding, but was sent by his assistant to the wrong airport. Yet he turned up with a smile and kiss at the last minute to put the veil on Elizabeth and send her down the aisle in the dress of her dreams. Every girl s dream.