The young designer made a name for himself when he dressed former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1960s. After launching his own line, de la Renta became known for creating elaborate, feminine gowns that were often worn by first ladies including Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. He dressed socialites in his couture creations, and his gowns were red carpet staples as celebrities including Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker and more wore his designs year after year. Most recently, de la Renta collaborated with Amal Clooney on her wedding gown, which was accompanied by a spread in the November issue of Vogue.
"Style begins by looking good naked," he told The Telegraph in a 2013 interview. "It's a discipline. And if you don't dress well every day, you lose the habit. It's not about what you wear, but about how you live your life."
De la Renta was married twice. His first wife, Françoise de Langlade, was a former editor of French Vogue. She died of bone cancer in 1983. The couple had been married for 16 years. The designer adopted a son soon after his first wife's death and married socialite Annette Engelhard Reed in 1989. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.
De la Renta presented his Spring 2015 collection at New York Fashion Week in September. When reviewing the show, New York Times fashion director and chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote of the designer and his collection, "He has a respect for the classic forms (lunching suits, tea dresses, straight trousers — even full-blown ball gowns) that is almost palpable, not to mention an appreciation of the power of decoration and the allure it can bestow."