De la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932. He left home at the age of 18 to study painting in Madrid, Spain but decided instead to pursue fashion design. He eventually worked as an apprentice to Cristobal Balenciaga, Spain's most celebrated couturier.
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.
"Oscar’s remarkable eye was matched only by his generous heart. His legacy of philanthropy extended from children in his home country who now have access to education and healthcare, to some of New York’s finest artists whose creativity has been sustained through his support," Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement. "We will always be grateful to Oscar for the love he showed us, and for sharing his talent on some of the most important occasions of our lives."
De la Renta also 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, he 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."
Last week, the fashion house announced that it had named Peter Copping as creative director.
In a tribute film recorded by friends in 2013, de la Renta said, "I feel very privileged, lucky, that I have had a wonderful life. And that I have been always been allowed to do what I loved."