Remembering a Legend: Hillary Kerr Pays Tribute to Oscar de la Renta

Mr. de la Renta was everything you could possibly imagine. Unquestionably talented—he dressed four first ladies, countless Hollywood stars, and generations of powerful women throughout his 50-year career—he was also gracious, charming, and decidedly funny. Handsome too, in his tall, tan, dashing way. The first time Katherine and I met him, at a small party in his Melrose Place store in West Hollywood, he enchanted us both when he noticed the studs on the lapel of Katherine’s motorcycle jacket. He reached out to pet them, mid-conversation, and purred, “I like these studs,” much to our delight.

He was also an incredibly good sport, as evidenced by the patience and warmth he displayed during a shoot I did with him, Eva Chen, Shiona Turini, and Kate Davidson Hudson for the brand’s website in September 2012. On the direction of Mr. de la Renta’s peerless SVP of Global Communications, Erika Bearman, the four of us got to style ourselves for a “shop the front row” story, followed by photographs with the designer himself. He laughed while Eva and I took a selfie, and told us that this—four women, plus him—was his kind of shoot. To experience such warmth from a man who designed for princesses, worked with Cristobal Balenciaga, and was truly a legend in his own right? Let’s just say it’s unforgettable, in every way possible.

These few personal experiences with Mr. de la Renta touched my heart in a way that’s difficult to articulate. I am grateful to have met him, and will be forever changed by that experience. My words cannot begin to explain the scope, importance, and spirit of this man, so I highly recommend reading some of the industry’s pieces about him, like Robin Givhan’s story for The Washington Post, Anna Wintour’s remembrance on, Cathy Horne’s obituary for The New York Times, as well as her 2009 piece for the newspaper’s Sunday magazine. I am certain you will treasure them, just as I did.