Dianne Von Furstenberg – “Journey of a Woman”

Dianne Von Furstenberg – “Journey of a Woman”

“Diane:   I love to be a woman…always did. I do believe women should be independent and have an identity on their own…I am therefore a true feminist…That does not mean we should forget being women….and beautiful ones !!

By 1976, Diane had sold millions of her dresses, coming to symbolize female power and freedom to an entire generation.

Furstenberg’s line has always had one common thread throughout the years and different areas of commerce she has explored- a simple, effortless elegance, one that can only be claimed by slipping on a flowing, well-made, and flattering dress, or swiping on a new tube of red lipstick.

In 1997, after a hiatus from fashion, Diane reemerged on the New York fashion scene with the re-launch of the dress that had started it all and began transforming her company into the global luxury lifestyle brand it is today.

In 2005, Diane was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for her impact on fashion, and one year later, was elected the CFDA’s new president, an office she continues to hold. A firm believer in the power of women, Diane sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women’s leadership organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world.

Furstenberg’s resume is diverse and impressive. She started a publishing house in France in 1985, created a cosmetics line and home shopping network in 1991, purchased the Nesbitt Art House in 1993, a haven for infamous artists and renowned individuals, and now operates DVF Studio, a women’s clothing company created in 1997.

She also wrote a memoir of her life, entitled Diane: A Signature Life.

In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) recognized her influence on fashion and the world itself by honoring her with a lifetime achievement award.

This past March, Diane von Furstenberg launched The DVF Awards to honor extraordinary women.

From the speech of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, introducing the play 7 and the work of Vital Voices, to Kiran Bedi, India’s highest ranking woman in the leadership of India’s Police Service, to Wei Christianson, CEO of Morgan Stanley China and Valerie Jarrett…the list was impressive and unique. On Saturday night, at the UN, there was a dinner and first presentation of what will now be the Annual DVF AWARDS!!

The presenters, Christiane Amanpour, Melanne Verveer, Robin Roberts and Mery Streep were as special as the honorees, Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, Daniele Saint Lot, Katherine Chon and Ingrid Betancourt and made for a very inspiring and special evening.

It was an incredible evening, and as Diane said, she will always be remembered for turning the U.N. into a night club! Watch the event below.

Furstenberg is a women who not only creates great clothes and accessories for women everywhere, she is an example of how successful a women really can be when she sets her mind to it. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Furstenberg said, “I have yet to meet a woman who is not strong. They do not exist.”

Her faith in the strength and prominence of women in our time and society shows in her fashions and projects. Everything is bold, timeless, and elegant, but still commands attention (whether you want to give it or not!)

Furstenberg decided when she was a married woman that, although she could just sit back and be a happy, contented housewife, she wanted more than that out of life. She wanted to make a name for herself, to inspire other women to make names for themselves.

Besides being one of the most important fashion designers of our time, Diane Von Furstenberg is also a storyteller. Through her new retrospective exhibit “Journey of a Dress,” she invites us to momentarily plunge into her life. And what a life it is. Amidst the magazine covers, photographs, Andy Warhol paintings, and wrap dresses, it’s somewhat difficult to spot the designer herself, who has flown into Sao Paulo, Brazil, especially for the opening of the exhibit.

Despite her usual radiance, she camouflages surprisingly well against the backdrop of the last four decades of her life, perhaps symbolizing just how much the “Journey of a Dress” is also the remarkable journey of Diane.

Of course, this is no surprise since Von Furstenberg’s creations seem to exude an authentic reflection of her own identity, as if stringing her designs together could almost compose her autobiography. Her iconic creation, the curve-hugging DVF wrap dress, an explicit celebration of womanhood and femininity, seems the perfect backdrop to Diane’s own story. Born to a mother who survived the Holocaust and whom she constantly cites as an inspiration, Diane always prioritized her independence as a woman, even when she married Prince Egon of Furstenberg. The wrap dress, which earned Diane her independence, also had the same indirect effect on millions of other women, playing a role in the sexual revolution and the women’s liberation.

An Interview with Diane Von Furstenberg by Ines  for Sao Paolo Sketch

Ines: In regards to your views on feminism, you once said “Our strength has nothing to do with the fact that we can’t look good or have good legs, strength is something entirely independent.” This idea of empowerment through femininity really makes your clothes unique. Where does this bold signature style of yours stem from?

“Diane: I love to be a woman…always did. I do believe women should be independent and have an identity on their own…I am therefore a true feminist…That does not mean we should forget being women….and beautiful ones!!”

Ines: You recently did a brilliant interview with Alexander Wang for Interview Magazine. The interview as well as the video of Alexander Wang and his “gang” does a great job of capturing the current moment in fashion. If a similar video of “The Diane Gang” had been made, what would it look like?

“Diane: A young Belgian girl marries a Prince, moves to America. In her suitcases she brings little jersey dresses she designed and had made in Italy. She has 2 babies, goes out, sells her dresses and becomes very successful. Her crowd is Andy WARHOL, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Halston etc..Life is fun….She becomes very successful and lives a true American Dream!”

Ines: Your retrospective exhibit “Journey of a Dress,” curated by Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley opened in São Paulo this past Thursday. You’ve explained that the model Natalia Vodianova really encouraged the exhibit. Could you talk more specifically about how the concept for the exhibit came up?

“Diane: The Journey of a Dress was first shown in Russia. My friend Natalia had the idea because she thought people would be interested in my work, my life and the people I met. The show is about fashion, about art and about the last 4 decades.”

Ines: You titled the exhibit “Journey of a dress.” How did you come up with the title?

“Diane: The thing that is amazing is that one single dress has continued to be relevant and in demand through 4 decades…therefore…its journey!”

Ines: Brazil seems to have quite a lot of significance for you. You’ve collaborated with Brazilian jeweler H. Stern, titled your recent collection “Her Name is Rio,” and picked Brazil to be the first country in Latin America to open a DVF store and show your exhibit. Where does your attachment to Brazil come from?

“Diane: I love Brazil…it is an incredible country with incredible people…I love everything about Brazil…the nature, the beauty, the people!”

Ines: You’ve written that “Her name is Rio” was inspired by the girls of Ipanema. Was there a particular experience in Rio that really made the collection unravel in your mind?

“Diane: Inspiration is not something that can be explained.”

Ines: Does your involvement in the NGO Vital Voices (which aims to empower emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs all over the globe) overflow into your creative process? You obviously inspire women all over the globe. Do they also inspire your designs?

“Diane: Women inspire me more than anything else…I admire them and love them…My mission in life is to empower them… I do it through my work, through mentoring and through philanthropy!”

Ines: Your wrap dress played a significant role in the sexual revolution and the women’s liberation. Did you design the dress with this idea of liberation in mind and/or anticipate the extraordinary effect it would have?

“Diane: I had no idea that that little dress would have such an impact…but I am happy it did!

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