After nearly 50 years in the business, it’s no wonder 80-year-old Oscar de la Renta has a lot to say about the fashion industry. Like, really a lot.
The designer sat down for a revealing interview with William Norwich for New York magazine’s spring fashion issue and while the whole interview is full of amazing tidbits (like that de la Renta’s first apartment in New York was below Tennesee Williams’s, and that the designer almost got into a fist fight with Cecil Beaton at Truman Capote’s famous black-and-white party), we’ve pulled out the stuff you want to hear about.
Read on to find out what de la Renta had to say about just what John Galliano is doing in his studio and how he got there, the fact that Michelle Obama has never worn his designs, and making up with Cathy Horyn.
On how this whole John Galliano arrangement came about:
“I think John is one of the most talented men I’ve ever met. I like him very much… So when Anna asked me if I would have John in my studio, I said yes. I also believe that everyone should have a second chance, especially someone as talented as John. And he has worked so hard on his recovery.”
And just what, pray tell, is Galliano doing in Oscar’s studio?
“I like hearing what he thinks should be changed and improved about each piece we are showing in the fall collection.”
So will John Galliano continue to work with de la Renta after fashion week?
“I would love for him to stay. Will he? I cannot tell you that today. Because we haven’t gone that far in really discussing it. The fact is we work very differently in New York than in Paris. It’s night and day. We work at a much faster pace. So the answer is we don’t know. We’re still exploring.”
On not having dressed Michelle Obama (yet, anyway):
“At this point in my career, would I like to dress Mrs. Obama? Of course. But will it make any changes to my business? Does my customer in Dubai care if I am dressing Mrs. Obama or not? I don’t think so.”
And about that time he criticized Michelle Obama for wearing a British designer, Alexander McQueen, to a state dinner hosting Chinese President Hu Jintao?
“I think it was a lost opportunity to not showcase younger American designers. Wasn’t the point of the dinner to promote American-Chinese trade?”
On that infamous open letter to Cathy Horyn:
“You know, I had a ball writing that letter. I think that Cathy is one of the best fashion writers there’s ever been, but I don’t think we see fashion the same way.”
On his relationship with Horyn now:
“I called her and asked her to have lunch with me. My job is what my job has always been. It’s having a true sense and understanding of who my consumer is. That woman isn’t going to buy my dress because of what a journalist writes.”