US Stamps

Learning more about the Oscar de la Renta stamp set

Apr 29, 2021, 10 PM

By Michael Baadke

The United States Postal Service will pay tribute to fashion designer Oscar de la Renta with an unusual 11-stamp pane that will be issued Feb. 16.

The stamp pane includes a large  background photograph of de la Renta with a single nondenominated (49¢) forever stamp that duplicates the black-and-white portrait for its vignette.

The remaining 10 forever stamps in the set are grouped together in the lower half of the pane as two horizontal rows of five, showing “details from several of his most exquisite gowns,” according to the Postal Service.

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Some of the stamps appear to picture close-up views of patterned or solid-color fabric, while others show more of the full dress, including the shoes worn by models walking on a fashion-show runway.

The photograph of de la Renta is credited to Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Information from the Postal Service credits the artwork on the remaining 10 stamps as “from existing photos.”

USPS art director Derry Noyes designed the 11-stamp pane. The Postal Service previously issued an 11-stamp pane in 2005 to honor Jim Henson and the Muppets (Scott 3944).

Along with the pane of 11 sold in post offices, the Postal Service is offering an undisclosed quantity of Oscar de la Renta press sheets with die cuts that contain nine panes, selling for face value at $48.51.

Post offices have been instructed that the Oscar de la Renta forever stamps are to be sold as a full pane only, and that stamps from the pane are not to be sold individually.

As of Jan. 26, the Postal Service has not revealed information about plans for a first-day ceremony for the Oscar de la Renta stamps.

The New York Times has reported that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a longtime friend of the designer, will speak at a Feb. 16 ceremony “to mark the issuing of a stamp honoring fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, a close family friend.”

The mention in Laura M. Holson’s Jan. 14 article in the Times Style section was part of a larger story about recent and future appearances by the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and her husband, President Bill Clinton.

According to Holson’s article, the ceremony will take place at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

These details, still unconfirmed by the Postal Service, were reported by Linn’s Jan. 18.

De la Renta was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on July 22, 1932. He moved to Madrid, Spain, at age 19 to study painting at the Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando, according to the website of the Oscar de la Renta firm, which continues to offer fashions, fragrances, jewelry, home goods, and other products for sale online and in retail outlets worldwide.

In 1956, de la Renta was commissioned to create a white debutante dress for Beatrice Cabot Lodge, the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Spain, John Davis Lodge. A photograph of Miss Lodge wearing the dress was then featured on the cover of Life magazine.

“After later breaking into haute couture fashion in Paris, de la Renta moved to New York and began working at Elizabeth Arden in 1963,” the Postal Service noted in a recent announcement.

“Two years later, he debuted his own collection for the first time. A rising star along Seventh Avenue, he captured the beauty and ease American women craved in their gowns and suits. He mingled just as confidently with the socialites of New York as he had in Paris and Madrid and sought to create both the day and evening wear that such powerful and influential women desired. With his highly polished style and tremendous skill, de la Renta bridged the gap between American and French fashion.”

Over the years, de la Renta designed fashions for first ladies Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton, including the dress Clinton wore as mother of the bride when her daughter Chelsea married in 2010.

Michelle Obama wore an Oscar de la Renta dress during a lunch at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of the queen’s 90th birthday last year.

De la Renta became an American citizen in 1969. In 1989, he received the lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. His philanthropic efforts included founding the Casa del Nino orphanage in his native Dominican Republic. He died Oct. 20, 2014.

Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Oscar de la Renta forever stamps can be found in the box on this page. 

Nondenominated (49¢) Oscar de la Renta forever stamps

FIRST DAY— Feb. 16, 2017; city— New York, N.Y., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (de la Renta photograph); uncredited existing photos; designer, art director and typographer— Derry Noyes, Washington, D.C.; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored type III, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 17.6 million stamps; format— pane of 11, from 99-subject cylinders; size— 1.09 inches by 1.04 inches (image); 1.23 inches by 1.56 inches (overall); 7.64 inches by 8.63 inches (full pane); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— “Oscar de la Renta,” plate numbers (front); “©2017 USPS,” USPS logo, bar code, “Oscar de la Renta,” promotional text (back); USPS item No.— 562740.

First-day cancel ordering information

Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to FDOI — Oscar de la Renta Stamps, USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64144-9900. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by April 16.

The Postal Service’s set of 11 uncacheted first-day covers for the Oscar de la Renta stamps is item 562716 at $10.23. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2017 U.S. Stamp Program.