The Dream Maker
Designer Oscar de la Renta’s innate understanding of what brides want translates into exquisite bridal gowns fit for a fairytale
An exclusive inside look at the late Oscar de la Renta’s understanding on what women want in their dream wedding gowns
America’s great and good from Hillary Clinton to Ralph Lauren queued up to attend the funeral of Oscar de la Renta, who died in October at age 82 after a long battle with cancer. One of the world’s most celebrated fashion designers, De la Renta is known for his romantic, feminine and glamorous designs. But he will perhaps be most acutely missed for the exquisite bridal wear he created over just eight years that was based on an intuitive grasp of the significance of the wedding day.
“Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her,” De la Renta once said. “I have always felt that my role as a designer is to make a woman feel her very best. A wedding gown will live for generations in photographs.”
“Oscar de la Renta understood that it is the bride who makes the dress beautiful. His gowns are designed to enhance the female features and form,” says Cecile Chen, managing director of Hong Kong’s exclusive stockist, Trinity Bridal Hong Kong.
De la Renta diversified into bridal wear in 2006 and his collection also includes veils, shoes, fashion jewellery and bags. To ensure a perfect fit, each gown has a built-in corset that is handmade by seamstresses at De la Renta’s New York studio—some of whom have worked for him for more than 40 years.
“Embroidery and appliqués are hand sewn and each gown is thrice quality checked,” says Chen, adding that embroidered gowns are the most popular. “His thread work and beading are so masterfully put together and wonderfully unique.”
Actress Kate Bosworth wore an Oscar de la Renta gown for her wedding day. But perhaps the designer’s most famous dress was to be his last. Less than a month before he died, one of the world’s most anticipated brides, Amal Alamuddin, became Mrs George Clooney wearing a cream bespoke gown with a spectacular, sweeping circular train. The romantic creation featured two layers of tulle with 14 yards of Chantilly lace that had been especially flown in from France. The bodice was hand-embroidered with pearls and diamantes and the slightly off-the-shoulder straps gave the A-line style a demure look.
In her romantic comedy 27 Dresses, actress Katherine Heigl wore a plethora of fussy, fancy
and frilly bridesmaids frocks. But there was only one designer she cared to wear for her own wedding to Josh Kelley at Christmas in 2007. Heigl’s gown was stunning and unique: a formal, fitted style contrasted with oversized ruffle detail at the neck and shoulders. This sort of original touch is what makes De la Renta’s gowns stand out and the magic of Oscar de la Renta will live forever through the happiness he gave to brides around the world, on one of the most important days of their lives.
Oscar de la Renta’s Bridal 2015 collection, the last to be shown before his death, is full of variety.
The collection stood out for its imaginative detail at the neckline. The Charlotte gown features gossamer-light fabric swathed across the shoulders to form barely-there full-length gloves. Another gown stood out for its boa-like feathers that formed striking off-the-shoulder straps. The delicate pearlised print and bead embroidery of the Camilla gown decorate the shoulders beautifully. The neckline of the Cornelia is given a formal look by tulle caraco embroidered with white threadwork, while the Chantilly lace of the Colette gown highlights the décolletage.
In a clever use of accessories, a sleeveless, ivory duchess satin trumpet gown is decorated at the bust with a crystal and white pearl bow broach, and complementing crystal and pearl earrings.
In contrast to the long pieces, the Catherine gown is cut above the knee and is described as a white silk faille dress with embroidered organza bodice and sleeves. In sync, a white crinkle tulle veil is worn very short at the back of the head.
Two gowns in particular encapsulate De la Renta’s romantic vision. The Clara is a white silk ball gown with taffeta origami embroidery that showcases the designer’s elegant style, while the Constance is stunning in its simplicity: an ivory radzimir trumpet gown with a dramatic bustle at the back.
Oscar de la Renta started making bridal wear in 2006, and the collection included veils, shoes, fashion jewellery and bags
A gown from the Bridal Fall 2015 collection features a romantic look with its blend of Chantilly and Lyon lace
Each gown has a built-in corset handmade at De la Renta’s New York studio
The Clara gown from the Bridal 2015 collection