Oscar de la Renta is, without question, a living legend amongst New York fashion designers. And with good reason: this year marks his 50th anniversary toiling away in the city, creating some of the most sophisticated and elegant collections American fashion has to offer. The 80-year-old sat down with William Norwich for an interview in the new issue of New York magazine, and shared some of his well-earned wisdom and, yes, dished on some of the juicy stories he’s found himself involved in as of late.
I think John is one of the most talented men I’ve ever met. I like him very much. The years I was doing Balmain in Paris, I went many times with Anna [Wintour] to his shows. It is so strange to me what people who don’t know Anna think of her. She is so wrongly guessed. She is the most wonderful person, so smart, and so funny, and an unbelievably loyal friend. So when Anna asked me if I would have John in my studio, I said yes. I also believe that everyone should have a second chance, especially someone as talented as John. And he has worked so hard on his recovery.
As for whether he will name him as his successor, as recent gossip suggests, he says only that he enjoys his company:
I would love for him to stay. Will he? I cannot tell you that today. Because we haven’t gone that far in really discussing it. The fact is we work very differently in New York than in Paris. It’s night and day. We work at a much faster pace. So the answer is we don’t know. We’re still exploring.
The designer has dressed every First Lady since Jackie Kennedy — up until Michelle Obama, who has never worn one of his pieces. Naturally, this has raised plenty of speculation about bad blood between the two, particularly since de la Renta has been quoted in critical pieces surrounding some of the FLOTUS’ wardrobe choices. Here’s what the designer had to say about those rumors:
At this point in my career, would I like to dress Mrs. Obama? Of course. But will it make any changes to my business? Does my customer in Dubai care if I am dressing Mrs. Obama or not? I don’t think so. They only care if I am making dresses they can wear. But I think it was a lost opportunity to not showcase younger American designers. Wasn’t the point of the dinner to promote American-Chinese trade?