In Memory: Oscar de la Renta

A look back at the beloved designer's best bridal and evening gowns

oscarprgirlImage via OscarPRGirl

When I first started working in wedding magazines some eight years ago, Oscar de la Renta was one of the first bridal designers I fell head over heels for. In college, I had admired his evening gowns from the glossy pages of Vogue and the warm glow of the small screen (what gal can forget the iconic SATC episode when The Russian gifts Carrie a little pink ODLR dress and she rocks it out on the town and to McDonalds?).

But it wasn’t until I inspected runway photos of Oscar de la Renta’s bridal collections that I truly discovered his genius. Much like the man behind the American fashion label, his designs are polished and “pretty,” as he once described his dresses, but also sophisticated, smart, and, in an understated yet no less alluring way, sexy.

Whether a bold silk ball gown or tiers of ruffled tulle, his gowns hug the body in all the right places and put the female form front and center. The various women who have worn his designs over the years—brides, celebrities, athletes, editors, royalty, pop stars, first ladies and first daughters—always have one thing in common: they radiate beauty, confidence, strength, and poise.

As much as I adore the designer, perhaps no one’s love for Oscar is as great as recent Utah bride Autumn Hamilton‘s. When I met Autumn a handful of years ago when she worked as a magazine intern, one of our first conversations revolved around the designer and her affinity for his dresses.

So when she messaged me last night to tell me she had tears in her eyes after learning the news of his death, then proceeded to share an encylcopedic-like knowledge of the icon’s most iconic looks (fueled, no doubt, by her nearly life-long subscription to Martha Stewart Weddings), I knew it was she, not I, who could do him justice with a tribute that speaks to his legacy. Below, Autumn shares her Oscar de la Renta love story and photos of some of her favorite ODLR dresses.

autumn and oscar de la renta

Autumn Hamilton aka ODLR’s biggest fan

“I’m having trouble recalling the exact moment when I first fell in love with Oscar de la Renta, but my early adoration was fueled by my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie, “Sabrina,” in which she wears an Oscar de la Renta gown with “yards and yards of fabric,” as well as the designer’s early bridal collection ad campaigns in Martha Stewart Weddings. Oscar de la Renta’s bridal ads are often among the first spreads in the magazine, and after seeing those silk ball gowns accompanied by the designer’s bold white signature, my fingers usually failed to flip any further.

I love Oscar de la Renta because he took feminine frills like bows, polka dots, cascading ruffles, and romantic florals and formed them with bold, poised structures and silhouettes, lending strength and endurance to the delicate essences of femininity.

The photo to the right is a terrible picture of me outside the Oscar de la Renta boutique in South Coast Plaza, one of the few ODLR boutiques in the world (taken in September 2011). I may have teared up, I won’t like. I went inside and just reverently ran my hands along the silk faille gowns, including a kelly-green dress I had fawned over online. Seeing the design in person was very special for me.

A few of my all time favorite Oscar de la Renta gowns include the following (oh gosh, so hard to narrow down!)…