Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ode to Oscar de la Renta

One of the giants of fashion has passed. I did not personally know him. I never interviewed him. But I did get invited to see his shows during the time he was designing collections for the house of Pierre Balmain and I was present for the launch of his perfume, Ruffles, held at the Ritz Hotel.

The first time I saw him was at a fashion show of another designer. He had come late and was standing in the back next to me. When I realized who he was, my attention was diverted away from the catwalk presentation and I began to stare at him incessantly. My goodness, he was one tall, gorgeous man! He turned around and looked at me with a smile on his face which made me realize just how much I was staring. I smiled back, turned my attention back to the show, but stole glances from the corner of my eye. My goodness, what an incredibly gorgeous guy.

According to a report published by the New York Times, the great, late Oscar de la Renta will be laid to rest on November 3 in New York. When I heard of his passing on October 20, I felt as if a part of my culture had died. Mr. de la Renta and his contemporaries were the reason I had embarked on a career in fashion. I adored the fashions they created and I wanted to be part of that industry!

Born in Santo Domingo, Oscar de la Renta worked under legendary couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga. In the 1960's he rose to fame dressing the most distinguished women in the world including first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. His clothes were the epitome of elegance, grace and class.


Creating dolly versions was very straight forward. Oscar's lines are simple and sleek. Surprisingly it did not take me all that long to realize the four looks on this page. For the pant suit pictured above. This is a basic jackret pattern (without collar and elongated into a coat) with a length of faux fur tacked on. (Note: if you click on the highlighted text throughout this post, you will be transported back to that specific tutorial.)

Underneath: I used my trouser pattern, but instead of stitching up the darts, I made tucks instead, tacking them at the waistline with a few hand stitches. The top was created with the basic foundation (2 dart) sloper. There again, I did not sew up the darts. Instead, I pinched them at the waist and tacked them down with a few hand stitches (the same technique I used for one of the jumpsuits in a previous post).

The second photo in this post (fur top over the long pencil skirt) was also simple. It is the basic top with the opening planned for the back. I did not put sleeves on the dolly version due to the difficulty in piercing the (real) skin I used. The skirt was cut from a stretch vinyl that resembles leather. It was cut in one-piece.

This is a dress I have been wanting to do since I saw it last year. It is silk faille princess line dress with an overlay of vintage crocheted trim.

I made this somewhat shorter than the original because I thought it prettier on the doll.

And then there was this grand, "classically Oscar" ball gown which really shows off his Latin roots. Quintessentially beautiful, it is a lot more simple than you might imagine. I began with the 1-piece camisole over which I draped a polyester dotted Swiss fabric. The skirt part was made using a 4-gore skirt pattern. I sewed three tiers of ruffles onto this skirt. You can either leave the two element separate and add a ribbon waistband to the skirt. Once on the doll, I used another piece of my fabric for a sash belt. Or you can sew the top to the bottom (again, beware of bulk around the waistline) and then tie a sash over it.

We're now on the streets of Paris. We'll be back shortly with what the girls have been up to!

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  1. Yes, Mr. de la Renta was handsome. So exciting that you stood next to him at a fashion show. These clothes you made for the dolls are beautiful. Job well done. I think Oscar de la Renta would be proud.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! He was a great designer. I love your fashions!!! xx

  3. This is a great post Aprill! And you did such a great job at choosing and recreating these fashions, they are impressive!
    I'm really curious about your girls in Paris....LOL

  4. Thank you, Billa. This post provided me the opportunity to go back and do done of the outfits I would have love to do for the fashion reports but didn't have the time. As for the girls & me in Paris. We're having a blast. We've already been to the fashion museum and window shopping! Big hugs.

  5. Hello from Spain: I love the creations and designs of Oscar de la Renta. You make a great tribute. Your creations are fabulous. Great outfits. Keep in touch

  6. Thank you, Marta. Oscar de la Renta's clothes are so beautiful and so timeless. It was a pleasure to dedicate this post to a man with so much taste and class.

  7. Please forgive me for not getting this response directly underneath your comment. I'm using my iphone app which throws them at the end. While abroad, I don't have internet access in my apt. Anyway, Night Owl, I started to do a regular tribute with Mr. De la Renta's bio, but I thought my little anecdote would be more interesting. Thank you for your kind words.

  8. Phyllis, thank you for your kind words. You know how it is. A handsome man can sell just about anything. That Oscar de Renta made gorgeous clothes, made his fashions even sweeter!!!


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