A Stamp Unveiling Ceremony Gets Political

Courtesy of USPS

(photo Courtesy of USPS)

Here in the early days of the Trump administration, you never know what can get political, even the unveiling a new stamp honoring a fashion designer. Especially when the invited speakers included a former presidential candidate and a former mayor.

On Thursday, the Oscar de la Renta fashion house hosted a ceremony at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall to honor its collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service on a series of stamps for 2017, commemorating their namesake, the designer Oscar de la Renta. The stamp panel includes 11 images—a black-and-white portrait of him and 10 stamps that feature his gowns.

Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor, hosted the event, which included remarks by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—both of whom noted that de la Renta was an immigrant, a member of a group that perceives itself to be in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration.

Bloomberg said in his speech that he hope the stamps would inspire people and help them realize the importance of immigrants. “I also hope that they remind people of the extraordinary contributions that immigrants make to our city, to our country every single day,” he said.

Clinton was the last speaker. She talked about her close friendship with de la Renta, including when she visited the Dominican Republic in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch, and de la Renta gave her a tour of the orphanage he had started.

And she agreed with Bloomberg’s point that, as an immigrant, the designer is a fitting person to be featured by Postal Service, an institution, she pointed out, that is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The crowd applauded.

“And it’s choice of this immigrant, who did so much for our country, his country, truly is what it means when we say, ‘USA Forever’—Who we are, what we stand for,” Clinton said, referring to the Forever stamp. “And let there be many, many more immigrants with the love of America that Oscar de la Renta exemplified every single day.”

This Thursday is the final day of New York Fashion Week. It also happens to be the “Day Without Immigrants,” a day that some immigrants and their supporters did not work, an effort to show the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy.

According to, De la Renta was born in Dominican Republic in 1932 and left the Caribbean to study painting in Madrid at the age of 18. He was hired for his first real fashion job at Lanvin-Castillo while on vacation in Paris in 1961. After working for some of the biggest names in European fashion, he moved to New York in 1963 and joined the American design house of Elizabeth Arden, and then began his own signature ready-to-wear label in 1965.  In the 1980s and 1990s he designed gowns for American First Ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and Clinton. ]He died in 2014 at 82.