FOX News Channel's Gwen Marder got a chance to talk to famed fashion designer Oscar de la Renta about his collections, professional life and personal interests. Below is a Q&A:
FNC: Your fall collection is in the stores now, and your spring show has just previewed. Can you give us a short overview of each collection? Which season do you prefer designing for, and why?
De la Renta: Every season I am inspired by women. I do not have one theme for each season, I just try to make beautiful clothes all year round. As far as preference between fall and spring collections, I have none that I prefer to design. With fall you have a lot more items, but of course I am from the Dominican Republic, so I love the warm weather.
FNC: You were the first American designer to design for a French couture house (Balmain). Did that experience influence your design direction for your own Oscar de la Renta collection?
De la Renta: Designing for the house of Balmain was a wonderful experience, and I worked with many incredibly talented people there, but I must confess that I wanted to get back to focusing on just the Oscar de la Renta label.
FNC: Your empire includes your Oscar de la Renta collection, the Pink label, accessories, swimwear, fragrance and numerous licensees. Are there any other areas you would like to explore?
De la Renta: We have been expanding the Oscar de la Renta Home collection, and that has been great fun. Besides furniture, Oscar de la Renta Home encompasses rugs, linens, tabletops and much more to come. I also just opened my first free-standing retail store on Madison Avenue, and we were opening another in Bal Harbour shops next month and in Las Vegas in April of 2005.
FNC: You’ve dressed celebrities, royalty and first ladies. Who has left the greatest impression on you?
De la Renta: I have had the opportunity to dress so many wonderfully accomplished and distinguished women, it would be impossible to choose one that stood out the most. It has been a great honor.
FNC: What qualities do you most admire in a woman?
De la Renta: The qualities I most admire in women are confidence and kindness.
FNC: Culturally, do you find that European socialites have a different attitude toward dressing up than their American counterparts?
De la Renta: We live in an era of globalization and the era of the woman. Never in the history of the world have women been more in control of their destiny. I think of each woman as an individual, not as European or American.
FNC: You've accomplished so much in your career: You’ve won the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Heritage Society, The Gold Medal of Belles from the king of Spain, the Living Legend award from the Fragrance Foundation. Which award has given you the greatest satisfaction?
De la Renta: All these awards have been great honors. I think the greatest reward I have is getting up and going to work each day. I love what I do.
FNC: You sit on the board of many charitable organizations. Can you tell us what attracts you to a particular cause?
De la Renta: The charities closest to my heart have always involved helping children in some way.
FNC: With all the pressure of designing and business, what do you do when you have time off?
De la Renta: I adore gardening, and whenever I have time off, that is my passion.
FNC: What have you loved most about your career?
De la Renta: I love everything [about] my career.
FNC: If designing didn’t work out, what would you have been?
De la Renta: I originally went to school to study painting, so perhaps that would have been the path I would have taken, painter.