The career of Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta was recognized Wednesday by the Couture Council at an event to kick off New York's Fashion Week.

"For me, it's an honor to receive an award, above all for something that I love doing. For me, fashion is a passion, something I've been involved with for many years," the designer told Efe before receiving the lifetime achievement award from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a heavily attended event at Lincoln Center.

De la Renta told Efe that despite his five decades in fashion, he is still "learning, there's still a new challenge" for him in pursuing his successful career during which he has created a fashion empire.

In addition, De la Renta is one of the preferred designers of women from first ladies to stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, who attended the event in a summer ankle-length dress with red and white checks.

The 80-year-old fashion icon - whose empire also includes underclothing for both men and women, perfumes and accessories, articles for the home, collections for children, shoes and jewelry - recalled that his muse has always been his wife, whom he has been designing for since 1965 when he created his firm in New York.

De la Renta, who attended the event accompanied by his wife Annette, added with satisfaction that during the last four decades his wife went from being a housewife to a woman "involved in all sorts of social activities ... and a great contributor to current society." EFE