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: