On October 21st the world lost a fashion powerhouse and a national treasure for the Dominican Republic. The “Sultan of Suave”, Oscar de la Renta, passed away in his Connecticut home,at the age of 82 . For over half a century De la Renta has dressed stars like Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Penelope Cruz. He was also a favorite designer among former First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and just this month the first lady Michelle Obama. From his magical wedding dresses to his ready- to-wear collection, De la Renta is responsible for setting an incredibly high standard in the fashion industry.
De la Renta often said that his love for the exotic, color and light were inspired by his home island of the Dominican Republic. Born and raised in the capital of Santo Domingo, Anna Wintour, chief- editor of Vogue magazine once said that traveling to the Dominican Republic with De la Renta was like traveling with the president. He was revered here in his home country where he carried a diplomatic passport as an unofficial ambassador.
De la Renta was deeply embedded in the development of the Dominican Republic, especially the area of Punta Cana. He was a partner and investor of the Puntacana group, the brand responsible for initiating the transformation of 30 square miles of undeveloped land into the tourist mecca it is today. His membership in the Puntacana group made him partial owner and investor in the Punta Cana International Airport, the world’s first, and most successful privately owned airport. Millions of tourists from all over the world get their first taste of Caribbean living as they walk through the beautifully designed airport with a palm frond thatched roof.
In addition to designing beautiful gowns, De la Renta had an incredible interior design sense. In 2006 he designed the interior of each villa at the Tortuga Bay Boutique hotel of the Puntacana Resort & Club. The Tortuga Bay Resort is also the home of first Oscar de la Renta resort boutique, carrying items hand-picked by the designer with the concept of destination luxury retail.
Fashion and design were his life’s work, but De la Renta was also an avid philanthropist. Some of his contributions to the island include an orphanage in La Romana and the construction of a much needed school in the Punta Cana area. There is no doubt that Oscar de La Renta left an important mark on the fashion industry, and on Punta Cana as well. He will be missed in Punta Cana and around the world.