NEW YORK (AP) — At his Fashion Week runway show in September, Oscar de la Renta sat in his usual spot: in a chair right inside the wings, where he could carefully inspect each model just as she was about to emerge in one of his sumptuous, impeccably constructed designs.
At the end of the show, the legendary designer himself emerged, supported by two of his models. He didn’t walk on his own, and
didn’t go far, but he was beaming from ear to ear. He gave each model a peck on the cheek, and then returned to the wings, where models and staff could be heard cheering him enthusiastically.
De la Renta, who dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, died Monday evening at his Connecticut home at age 82, only six weeks after that runway show. But not before another high-profile honor was bestowed on him: The most famous bride in the world, Amal Alamuddin, wore a custom, off-the-shoulder de la Renta gown to wed George Clooney in Venice. Photos of the smiling designer perched on a table at the dress fitting appeared in Vogue.
De la Renta died surrounded by family, friends and “more than a few dogs,” according to a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen. The statement did not specify a cause of death, but de la Renta had spoken in the past of having cancer.
“He died exactly as he lived: with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms,” the statement said. “While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. … All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit.”