“Being male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of age. But being a Gentleman is a matter of choice.” *
Well, the fashion bloggers are all commenting on the passing of the great Oscar de la Renta, so I thought I’d add my two cents. “His departure is tragic. Fashion will never be the same,” gushed the Man Repeller. Please. He was 82 and had led a fabulous life. His departure was hardly tragic. That is not to say we won’t miss him.
Oscar de la Renta was a gentleman, a dying breed, of the old school. I remember seeing him on some talk show 25 years ago, conversing with some clueless host–probably Regis Philbin–about fashion. Oscar was telling the guy, “Oh, no no, you must never wear black shoes in the daytime! They are for evening only!” Regis was arguing with him (!), saying, “But black shoes go with gray slacks! C’mon!” Oscar stood firm. He knew he was correct and that Regis was a cretan.
Anyway, it goes way deeper than fashion. Oscar de la Renta knew that.
In case you haven’t noticed, there are fewer and fewer gentlemen of the Oscar de la Renta variety around. The kind who reflexively takes your arm when crossing a street. The kind who would never dream of using vulgar language in the presence of a female. The kind who always tells you that you look lovely when you get dressed up (no matter how un-lovely you look).
Another friend of mine, an 85-year old gentleman of the old school, died the other day. He went to Amherst back in the day and still wore shetland sweaters over button-down shirts and was like Oscar, in that (for example) if you were driving him somewhere and reached your destination, he asked if you would like him to park the car for you–so, you know, you could get out at the door and not walk in from across the parking lot.
No doubt we women are to blame for the deficit of gentlemen, having insisted on our equality and refused the pedestal. Whatever. I miss those old school gentlemen. And I will miss old Oscar.
*Vin Diesel (of course)