I was attracted to this brooch because of the coral-coloured design, it is by Oscar de la Renta and from the 1990s. At the start of the 1990s ‘grunge’ was the prominent fashion trend, but by mid-decade ‘glamour’ had returned, thank heavens. I have never been a fan of ‘grunge’. This brooch measures at it’s maximum 8cm x 8cm. The coral-coloured blossoms are plastic and the two green ‘buds’ are paste. It came as a set with outrageously large dangly earrings which were rather heavy and hurt when I wore them, so I removed the lower part and now they are small coral blossoms. To some this is sacrilege and defacement, but I have a mantra – I must be able to wear the jewellery I own – this means I will convert clip earrings to studs, make them smaller and I have even been known to add a pearl drop to enhance the design.
Oscar de la Renta was born Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo in 1932 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. One of seven children, he was the only boy, his father owned an insurance company, his mother died when he was 18. He left the Dominican Republic in 1950 to study painting in Madrid. For extra money he would draw clothes for newspapers and fashion houses, he was persuaded by then US ambassador’s wife to design a dress for her daughter, this was featured on the cover of Life magazine in July 1956.
LIFE magazine cover 9th July 1956 featuring Oscar de la Renta’s first dress design worn by Beatrice Anna Cabot Lodge
This led to an apprenticeship with Spain’s famous couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga, whom he always considered his mentor. Balenciaga was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior. In 1961 Oscar de la Renta left Spain for Paris where he worked for Lavin. After two years, on the advice from the then editor of Vogue, he went to New York to learn about ‘ready to wear’ clothing design. In 1965 Oscar started his own fashion label in New York. His ready to wear clothes are still available today online and in high end stores worldwide. He continued to design haute couture and was a particular favourite of American first ladies – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. In 2014, the George W. Bush Presidential Centre hosted an exhibit entitled “Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style” with Laura Bush fronting the promotional video of the exhibition.
To quote Oscar de la Renta – “my job as a designer is to make a woman feel her very best” and perhaps one of my favourites – “there is no sound more feminine that a woman in a taffeta dress”
Oscar died on 14th October 2014 in Connecticut, USA.