Designer Oscar de la Renta dies aged 82

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Media captionThe BBC's David Willis looks back at the life of Oscar de la Renta

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who dressed former first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, has died aged 82, his family has confirmed.

De la Renta, who most recently designed Amal Clooney's wedding dress, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, he left home at 18 to study painting in Madrid, Spain.

He soon developed a love of fashion design and began an apprenticeship with Spain's designer Cristobal Balenciaga.

De la Renta made his name in the early 1960s when the then first lady, Jackie Kennedy, frequently wore his designs. He launched his own label several years later.

Over the following decades he dressed nearly every first lady up to and including Michelle Obama, who he once chided for not wearing American designers.

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Image caption Oscar de la Renta made his name in the early 1960s
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Oscar de la Renta continued to enjoy success worldwide

Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all opted for De la Renta gowns.

Laura Bush described the designer as "the man who made women look and feel beautiful".

Mrs Obama eventually made her first appearance in one of his dresses at a White House reception in October.

At a ceremony honouring the designer this year, Hillary Clinton heaped praise upon De la Renta.

"This man has been working for more than 20 years to turn me into a fashion icon," she said.

De la Renta rose to further prominence after being chosen by Amal Alamuddin to design the gown for her wedding to George Clooney.

"George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant, and I can't imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress," Mrs Clooney told Vogue.

"Meeting him made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman."

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Image caption Former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy famously wore De la Renta's designs
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Laura Bush, wife of President George W Bush, was another of the designer's fans

De la Renta passed away at his home in Connecticut, reports say. The cause of his death was not immediately clear, although he had been diagnosed with cancer.

His stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolan said in a statement that De la Renta had passed away surrounded by family and friends and "more than a few dogs".

"While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us," the statement said.

"All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit."


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