Oscar de la Renta

SD: Let’s talk about aging. Personally speaking, as I get older, I try to think of myself as a fabulous wheel of Brie cheese, i.e., I’m getting better with age. How about you?

OdlR: Be careful! You might start melting. And Brie smells horrible when it gets old. For myself, I never think about my age. I don’t celebrate birthdays.

SD: My knees got creaky when I turned 50: How are your knees?

OdlR: I wish it was only my knees.

SD: What’s your favorite reality-TV show?

OdlR: Falcon Crest was the last TV show I watched regularly.

SD: Paris Hilton? Appalled or intrigued?

OdlR: Who is she?

SD: Let’s talk about your amazing runway shows. My favorite thing is always the white-cotton-eyelet tropical-hostess outfits. I cannot decide if they’re saintly or sultry. Is this intentional?

OdlR: It’s a reminder of my grandmother—beautiful but always very starched—and the fabulous nuns. I was an altar boy [growing up in the Dominican Republic]. I miss the nuns and the way they dressed. But not the priests.

SD: I have a theory that, as they get older, people always revert to the underwear of their childhood. I now wear Marks and Spencer underwear. Are you wearing Dominican underwear?

OdlR: There is no such thing. My underwear is made in Switzerland. White—never colored. It has to be clean and white, even if it’s only me who’s looking at it these days.

SD: A psychiatrist once told me that once people hit 70, they become disinclined to look at the ocean. How about you?

OdlR: I love the ocean. When I’m down in my house in Punta Cana, I wake up every morning and walk straight onto my balcony—I am sleeping almost naked—and I look at the ocean and I say, “ Dio gracias.”

SD: Iraq—should we pull out and let them try to sort out their own problems, or stick around and play nanny?

OdlR: I think we must stick around.

SD: You are one of the last surviving members of the Beautiful People, and you are still beautiful. What’s your secret? Green tea? Caribbean voodoo?

OdlR: I never committed the folly of getting a facelift. For a man, this stretching is not a good look. But I am blessed with good genes. If I looked like a Shar-Pei, I might feel differently.

SD: I am very common and nouveau riche, and you are very posh and soigné and glamorous, and yet we each have a Norwich terrier. Explain.

OdlR: Better to be nouveau riche than nouveau poor. What is the name of your Norwich terrier?

SD: Liberace.

OdlR: Poor thing!

SD: What’s it like being groovy all over again? You and your gorgeous clothes have been embraced and accepted by a whole new generation of uptown broads—I refer to the Aerin Lauders and Marina Rusts of the world. Is this a shock to you?

OdlR: No. My daughter Eliza makes me aware. Everyone in my studio is three-quarters my age. I am happy that there is a new generation of women in New York who are proud of their femininity and wear Oscar.

SD: Give me an adjective or two to describe life in New York as a septuagenarian.

OdlR: Energetic. New York is still the center of the world.

SD: Are you getting cranky with age?

OdlR: I’m very positive. I hate cranky people.

SD: Are you a Proust reader or an Us Weekly reader? High or low? Have your reading habits changed with age?

OdlR: I almost never read fiction. I’m just finishing Lenin’s Tomb by David Remnick. Totally fascinating.

SD: How do you feel when crazed lefty people say that we, in the U.S., are living in a police state?

OdlR: Ridiculous. I have lived under two dictators, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and Franco in Spain. There is no country in the world where you can enjoy so much freedom as you do here.

SD: Why aren’t you more pretentious? Is it a Latin thing?

OdlR: It’s so boring to put on airs.

SD: Raw seams? Pro or con?

OdlR: It was started by the Belgians. It gives a fresh look, but we’re getting over it now. The consumer doesn’t want to walk around with a million threads dangling off her.

SD: Lots of your peers have kicked the bucket. Who do you miss the most?

OdlR: Bill Blass. He was such a friend—I miss his sense of humor. But we were very different. I love to travel; he hated it. He always said, “I hate abroad.”

SD: How do you want to die?

OdlR: Quiet and with no pain. With my family.

Long live Oscar! ¡Feliz Navidad!