TIME WARP: Oscar De La Renta Is A Total Charmer In This 1984 Interview
Oscar de la Renta is just so gosh darn charming in this 1984 interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein that we kept forgetting just how old the clip was — until, that is, they zoomed out and we got a full look at his interviewer’s outfit: a brown, quintessentially Eighties, ruffle-necked dress.
Despite the date, however, de la Renta’s words are still as modern as ever. In the video below, he talks about starting off as a fashion illustrator. “While I was waiting for the model to change,” he recounts, “I’d say well ‘If I was making the dress I would have made it differently.’ So I started doing sketches of my own.”
These sketches led to interest from Cristobal Balenciaga, job offers at Christian Dior (for $150/month, mind you) and Antonio Castillo at Lanvin. He tells some choice anecdotes from his career: having to frantically look up a fashion school in the phonebook to learn how to drape in two weeks after telling a slight fib in an interview, a fateful charity ball where he was seated next to Elizabeth Arden, and receiving some unlikely, but ultimately astute advice from Diana Vreeland:
“Well, a friend of mine in Paris who was working at French Vogue, who would then turn out years later to be my wife, gave me a letter of introduction for Diana Vreeland. And I called Diana Vreeland and she asked me to come have tea with her on a Sunday, and she said, ‘What are you doing here? What is it that you want to do?’ And I told her, and I say: ‘Actually, I have been offered two jobs. I have been offered a job to design for less money the ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior and I have been asked to go and work for Elizabeth Arden.’ And she told me, ‘Ms. Arden is a very difficult person.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I know, because Castillo worked for her for five years.’ And Diane asked me, ‘What is what you want in the future?’ And I said, ‘I would love to be a very well-known designer of ready-to-wear clothes.’ And she said, ‘Well, then you should go to Elizabeth Arden.’”
Watch the full interview below: