Ending pesky rumors that Oscar de la Renta, like Valentino, was stepping down and/or selling his business, WWD sat down with the designer and his CEO (and son-in-law — nice score) for an in-depth chat about the biz. We scanned through the 20-page (online) article and now happily bring you the choice bits:
Oscar de la Renta: Let's make it very clear that certainly our company is not for sale. I mean, five years ago, before Alex came into the mix, if somebody were to come up and say, "We'd like to buy the company, we'd like to buy the name," probably I would say, "Gee, I'm not going to live forever, perhaps this is something I envision doing," but now I look at it in a different way.
Alexander Bolen: The company is absolutely not for sale. At this point, over my dead body.
The company is so completely not for sale, so stop talking about it already. Move along, people, nothing to see here.
A.B.: Having said that, yes, in general, if somebody came along and said here is $10 billion, guess what, my first thing is that I'm going to run to Oscar's office and say, "Let's hand them the keys."
Unless of course, you give them money. Then maybe they’ll sell it.
WWD: Oscar, has the "R" word — retirement from design — ever crossed your mind?
O.D.L.R.: When he fires me, I will.
Wow, that's a lot of power for a son-in-law.
WWD: How large a business is Oscar de la Renta today in retail sales?
A.B.: I'm not going to talk about retail sales because it's difficult to know. The markup structure is different in the U.S. than it is in Europe. Here's what I would tell you: For the first time this year, looking at our bookings and where we are, our business will be substantially more toward $100 million. When you equate that into retail dollars, I believe the math gets you easily to a number of $250 million and north of that.
They’re raking it in, economy be damned!
O.D.L.R.: One of my assistants, who is a wonderful girl, worked for quite a long time at another couture house. The designer used to make really unbelievable clothes. And it's not that he's not making beautiful clothes now, but I think that their emphasis is not really on selling the clothes, but on selling the accessories and selling the brand. When she saw me working, she said, "Oh my goodness, you work very differently," because, you know, every single dress I fit, I work on it. She said [the other designer] never touched the clothes, and I said that's not the designer I knew.
Ooh, five points to anyone who guesses the name of that designer correctly! —Amina Akhtar