Tributes pour in for legendary designer Oscar de la Renta

This May 5, 2014 file photo shows fashion designer Oscar de la Renta attending the official opening of The Costume Institute’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. -- PHOTO: AFP
This May 5, 2014 file photo shows fashion designer Oscar de la Renta attending the official opening of The Costume Institute’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP/Reuters) - Tributes have poured in from around the world mourning the loss of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, one of America's most eminent designers.

"Oscar created a whole world of luxury, style, and elegance all his own," wrote designer Vera Wang on Twitter.

"The 'King of Evening' will be forever remembered," Vogue Magazine added.

"My all-time favourite designer has passed away. Oscar, it was an honour to wear your creations and to know you. In loving memory," tweeted American singer Taylor Swift, posting a picture of herself wearing a custom gown by the designer to the Costume Institute Gala in New York last May.

De la Renta, famous for the classic lines of his formal wear, died on Monday, aged 82.

The Dominican-born American fashion icon had only recently been in the news for designing the wedding dress for human rights lawyer Amal Clooney for her marriage in Venice last month to actor and director George Clooney.

He died at his Connecticut home surrounded by family and friends and "more than a few dogs," according to a statement signed by two of his company's executives, Eliza Reed Bolen and Alex Bolen, who are his stepdaughter and her husband.

"While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar's hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company," the statement said.

The New York Times said De la Renta died of complications from cancer.

He was reportedly diagnosed in 2006.

Earlier this month, British-born designer Peter Copping was announced as creative director of Oscar de la Renta.

It is a new position that Copping was to assume early next month, working closely with de la Renta on designing the next collection.

The designer's company website late on Monday bore only his trademark signature in white against a navy blue background.

De La Renta himself was photographed in this month's edition of American Vogue alongside Amal Clooney trying on her wedding dress in his New York studio.

"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 the magazine.

He was known as one of the industry's classic designers, famous for floral, feminine, classy, elegant designs, flattering silhouettes with full skirts, cinched waists, often in soft hues

His classic looks were popular on Hollywood's red carpets and particularly well-suited to the tastes of the first ladies at the White House - from Jacqueline Kennedy to Nancy Reagan to Laura Bush among others - and most of whom were repeat clients.

"My daughters and I have many fond memories of visits with Oscar, who designed our favourite clothes, including (daughter) Jenna's wedding dress," Mrs Bush, wife of former President George W. Bush, said in a statement. "We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful."

He was also a go-to man for something elegant for actress and fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker, of Sex In The City fame.

The designer, who became a United States citizen in 1969, was the first American to become the top designer of a French fashion house.

Born on July 22, 1932 in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, he travelled to Spain as an 18-year-old to study art in Madrid and work as an apprentice to Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga.

In 1960, he moved to France to become an assistant at Lanvin in Paris, where he embedded himself in the world of haute couture, before moving to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden.

He created his eponymous label in 1965 and became one of the most lauded designers in New York, where he was twice president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

The CFDA honoured him with a string of awards, including a lifetime achievement prize in 1999.

In a career that spanned five decades, he saw his company grow into a multi-million-dollar empire that included ready to wear, fragrance, a home line and a bridal collection, which he launched in 2006.

He married twice, first in 1967 to Francoise de Langlade, an editor at French Vogue and, in 1989, six years after her death he married American publisher Annette Reed. He is also survived by an adopted son, Moises, a designer at his company.

The slim de la Renta cut an elegant figure himself in the New York fashion world, where he was a favourite of Vogue magazine's powerful editor, Anna Wintour, and fashion-savvy actresses like Parker.

"So sad for the loss of this legend. Oscar de la Renta, thank you for all the beauty and inspiration you shared with us," tweeted Nina Garcia, the Marie Claire creative director and judge on TV's fashion designer competition Project Runway.

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