Oscar de la Renta celebrated his 80th birthday in July, but his decades-long career—during which he’s dressed First Ladies and Hollywood celebrities alike—hasn’t made him impervious to some snarky criticism. Following de la Renta’s Spring 2013 runway show earlier this month, New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn wrote, “Mr. de la Renta is far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion.” The paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, later explained that Horyn’s words were “meant to suggest that he is flashy, and not over the hill,” but de la Renta wasn’t amused. In response, the designer took out a full-page ad in fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and blasted the critic in an “open letter”:
I respect and accept criticism because in many ways it does help us develop… what I do not accept is when criticism is personal. If you have the right to call me a hot dog why do I not have the right to call you a 3-day old hamburger?
But de la Renta is getting plenty of praise elsewhere, namely in fashion’s new “It” girl Allison Williams, an actress on HBO’s Emmy-nominated Girls and daughter of NBC News anchor Brian Williams. On Sunday night, Williams chose de la Renta for her Emmys debut, walking the red carpet in a strapless emerald dress that had a peplum top (she also wore a pink de la Renta shift to an event earlier in the week). Her choice of—and love for—de la Renta was chronicled in a piece in Monday’s WWD:
“I told her [stylist Cristina Ehrlich] when I first met her that my dream — my dream — is to wear Oscar de la Renta. It is one of the only designers I feel like I’ve always known about, and I’ve always noticed. It is so elegant and beautiful,” she says. “He has been so good for so long, he knows exactly what he is doing.”
That’s high praise from Williams, who recently kept a style diary for USA Today during New York Fashion Week and has been building her fashion profile for the better part of a year, according to WWD. Adoration from a celebrity won’t ever replace acclaim from a critic, but it must be a nice boost for de la Renta as he rebounds from the Horyn spat.