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Karlie Kloss on her mentor Oscar de la Renta; 'The most important thing in life, he said, is to love and be loved'

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Karlie Kloss has opened up about her friendship with the late Oscar de la Renta, who she considered her mentor, and surrogate grandfather.

“I remember him saying once that what he finds beautiful is confidence and kindness in the same person. He saw that in me before I realised it in myself. When he would quiet the room, turn on the music, and have me walk for him, I exuded the essence of the Oscar woman.”

Oscar de la Renta began his career over 50 years ago and has created dresses for a host of A-listers, including Jackie Kennedy and Sarah Jessica Parker. Karlie, who met the designer when she was just 15 at his atelier during her second fashion season, said how he even let her wear one of his gowns to her high school prom. 

“There was another time when I was still in high school and we were shooting his campaign. I had homecoming the next day, and he let me take the gown from the campaign to wear to my school dance. I felt absolutely beautiful!” 

Karlie Kloss (left) and Oscar de la Renta closing his show at New York Fashion Week September 2014

Karlie Kloss (left) and Oscar de la Renta closing his show at New York Fashion Week

In the article, which she wrote for Glamour magazine, the 22-year-old expressed her sadness at the legendary designer's death from cancer in October and how he managed to keep his illness quiet.

“For the past several years, I would open or close his show, and as it got harder for him to walk, he started bringing me out with him when he took his bow. He would really hold on to me when we did that walk. It was an unbelievable honour, and every season it was our thing. Looking back, I realised he was getting frailer. But in my mind, I always saw this tanned, suave man.”

This year, the model attended the Met Gala with the iconic designer, and shared a touching story of one of their last moments together.

“I attended the Met Gala with Oscar just eight months ago. That night at the dinner, I had one of the most heartfelt conversations with him that I've ever had with anyone. He told me how he fell in love with his wife, Annette, and he told me about his first wife, who had died of cancer 30 years before. The most important thing in life, he said that night, is to love and be loved, and to do what you love. For me, it was so inspiring to see someone at 81, still so happy going to work.”

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