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It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Oscar de la Renta. Here in Casa de Campo, Oscar de la Renta was not only one of the resort’s first villa owners, but he was also responsible for designing the overall ambience back in the 1980’s, contributing to a boom in the resorts popularity and he even helped with the early formation of the Hogar del Niño.
Born in Santo Domingo in 1932, Oscar de la Renta was a painter who sailed to Spain, where he got work sketching dresses for newspapers, a position which led to his first fashion commission for the wife of the US Ambassador to Spain. When that dress made it to the cover of Life magazine, Oscar de la Renta the fashion designer was born.
Oscar de la Renta & the Casa de Campo Resort
Many years later, Oscar de la Renta returned to the Dominican Republic as the friend of Charles Bludhorn, head of the Gulf + Western empire, who at that time owned Casa de Campo and the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company – today known as the Central Romana Corporation. Oscar de la Renta was hired to do the interior design for the original Casa de Campo hotel.
And by the interior design we don’t just mean the overall layout and decor, oh no, Oscar de la Renta actually designed the fabrics too, everything from the bedspreads to the curtains and cushions. Meanwhile he also designed the uniforms. For the ladies an elegant, “campesina” style white blouse paired with red and white check skirts, complimented with a head scarf, and shirts for the men in the same red and white. It was these interiors and uniforms that greeted and welcomed many of Casa de Campo’s very first hotel guests, hotel guests who, having fallen in love with the Dominican Republic and Casa de Campo, later became villa owners, thus beginning the still-growing Casa de Campo community.
Oscar de la Renta in his Casa de Campo villa [Image: Town & Country]
As many of the very first villa owners, the Casa de Campo villa of Oscar de la Renta was located in the Punta Águila neighborhood, a beautiful wooden Thai-inspired villa on the waters edge. Today this magnificent home remains largely unchanged by its new owners.
Meanwhile, as a member of the Casa de Campo community, Oscar de la Renta was an elegant and enthusiastic host, often hosting famous friends from across the world, Sean Connery, Barbera Walters and Henry Kissinger for example. Many of these guests later also became Casa de Campo villa owners, in turn attracting more and more international visitors.
Inside the Casa de Campo villa of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta & the Hogar del Niño
However, perhaps Oscar de la Renta’s most significant contribution to the Casa de Campo we know and love today, lies just outside of Casa de Campo, in the heart of La Romana – the Hogar del Niño. Not only did Oscar de la Renta give his time for the project, but he also instigated integrating education into the Hogar del Niño – something which today the Hogar del Niño is most famous for.
Oscar de la Renta at the Hogar del Niño
You see in the mid 1980’s, using a loan of RD$50,000, Xiomara Menéndez, founder of the Hogar del Niño was able to complete the construction of the original Hogar del Niño, and the daycare center was opened with just 13 children. As the Hogar del Niño started to grown, Xiomara Menéndez turned to Oscar de la Renta for help.
“I went to Oscar de la Renta, who had a house here, and I asked him for help.” Xiomara told Casa de Campo Living. “He helped me for many years, making fashion shows, and we never paid for anything… He brought the models, he brought the clothes, promoted the fashion show, we got the [venues] for free as well, and… that’s how we’ve been doing everything ever since, we don’t pay for anything we do, we get people to donate, so that everything we raise goes to Hogar del Niño.”
And then Oscar de la Renta suggested they work on a school together…
“Oscar de la Renta said ‘you know, I am helping a school in town, and I would like to help the school together with you’, so that’s how his school (Casa del Niño) which was one classroom came to be our school in the Hogar del Niño. It was about twenty, maybe thirty, kids, plus the ones we had. And that’s how it all started.” Said Xiomara Menéndez.
Today the Hogar del Niño is not only the largest daycare and education center in the Dominican Republic, but is also leading the way for other similar institutions.
Oscar de la Renta with Xiomara Menéndez at Hogar del Niño
Thank you Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta, your fashion, your success, your elegance made the Dominican Republic proud, but here in La Romana your generosity with the Hogar del Niño will continue to change lives forever.
This video shot in 1991 shows Oscar de la Renta in Casa de Campo and at the Hogar del Niño:
Oscar de la Renta at the Adopt a Crib dinner
Having played such an instrumental role in the creation of the Hogar del Niño, it was an honor for Xiomara and Ramon Menéndez to welcome Oscar de la Renta to their home during one of the annual Adopt A Crib dinners.
Hosted each year by Xiomara Menéndez, the founder of the Patronato Benefico Oriental (umbrella organisation to the Hogar del Niño) with her husband Ramon Menéndez, the “Adopt a Crib” dinner is an exclusive occasion to thank the generous Casa de Campo residents and villa owners who support the “Adopt a Crib” program.