Sarah Jessica Parker - Oscar de la Renta's favourite 'New York girl'

 Oscar de la Renta sings to his muse, Sarah Jessica Parker. (James Nord/Facebook)

Oscar de la Renta sings to his muse, Sarah Jessica Parker. (James Nord/Facebook)

Elegant, timeless, glamorous, memorable. 

These are some of the words used to describe fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta’s gowns. 

De la Renta, who passed away on Monday night, has dressed the crème de la crème of the entertainment and fashion industry. He even dressed royalty, the late Princess Diana.

De la Renta (82) reportedly passed away on Monday at his home in Connecticut after a long battle with cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2006. Last week he officially named his creative successor, passing the baton to ex-Nina Ricci designer, Peter Copping. 

A woman who has enjoyed De la Renta’s embrace over the years is Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker. She is dubbed as De la Renta’s muse, wearing his designs for over 10 years.
Her character in Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw, had an intense love affair with shoes and she lived for fashion. Bradshaw’s favourite fashion designer was Mr de la Renta. T

‘Personal friend’ De la Renta
Sex and the City dedicated its 2004 episode The Ick Factor to the designer. In this episode Bradshaw receives a dress from a “personal friend” De la Renta. 

The friendship between Parker and De la Renta spilled over onto the red carpet and beyond the series’ set.

When E! News caught up with the Dominican American fashion designer at the Diane von Furstenberg show at Lincoln Centre in 2011, they asked him which actress inspires him, he responded with “I like to think all of them”. According to E! News de la Renta smiled and revealed one name very special to him. “Well I love Sarah Jessica Parker because she is a friend for a long time,” he said. “Sarah Jessica is like Diane; she is very much the spirit of New York, she is the New York girl. I love her.”

Parker was not afraid of taking risks by wearing gowns that didn’t stick to the expected tight fitting and safe design aesthetics that most celebrities would show up in on the red carpet. 

De la Renta waved his magic wand at this year’s Met Costume Institute Gala, creating a gown that left Parker looking like a character out of a fantasy tale. 

‘Pure poetry
Parker’s black and white Met gown, which had De la Renta’s signature on its trail, got her onto the best-dressed list for the event. “I said to Mr De La Renta, ‘Please let me use scarlet embroidery thread and splash your name across the back.’ It was my idea. He would never in a million years have done it, he’s far too modest,” Parker told reporters at the Met Gala. 

In 2000, she went for a ballet-inspired De la Renta gown with a feathered skirt and flower armband to the 52nd Annual Emmy awards. This gown received a lukewarm response from fashion critics. Despite the fashion hits and misses, Parker and De la Renta were a match made in fabric heaven.  

You could count on looking like the bell of the ball in an Oscar de la Renta original. In an interview with told E! Entertainment, he said his plan was to always make the best he can for women. 

“When a woman buys clothes today, it’s not about whose design she is buying, she is buying something that she feels projects her sense of individuality of who she is.” Vogue has described De la Renta’s aesthetic as “borrowing sexiness from his Latin heritage and tempering it with a demure cut, learned in Europe”.  

We will remember him for his floral print, vibrant and colourful designs that didn’t shy away from boldness. “Pure poetry” is what Bradshaw once called De la Renta’s design. 

Fashion lovers had the opportunity to journey through the New York-based designer’s fashion career, as far back as 1965, through a display of 64 of his most iconic pieces that were worn by the world’s influential women. The Five Decades of Style exhibition, which was held at the George W Bush Presidential Centre in Dallas, closed early this month.

Look back at the designer
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic-born’s red carpet looks rarely faded into the background. His list of A-listers includes first ladies, Jackie Kennedy, Laura Bush, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Amy Adams and Blake Lively. 

He recently made headlines for designing an ivory beaded-tulle dress with Chantilly-lace appliqué wedding dress for actor George Clooney’s wife Amal, which set tongues wagging. 

“George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant, and I can’t imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress,” Amal Clooney told Vogue magazine.  “He [Oscar] is the man every woman wants to hug.”

De la Renta is survived by his wife Annette Engelhard.

Katlego Mkhwanazi

Katlego Mkhwanazi

Katlego Mkhwanazi is the Mail & Guardian's arts, culture and entertainment content producer. She started her career in magazines, before joining the Mail & Guardian team in 2014. She is an entertainer at heart. Read more from Katlego Mkhwanazi

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