Home LEGENDS & ICONS Fashion Legend – Diane von Furstenberg

Fashion Legend – Diane von Furstenberg

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Diane Von Furstenberg was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium where she attended Madrid University and later transferred to the University of Geneva in Switzerland before the beginning of her fashion empire. Furstenberg embarked her journey into the industry in 1970 when she set sail to the city of New York taking with her a suitcase of jersey dresses that she had created in Italy alongside friend, Anfelo Ferretti. Which started as a line of wrap tops and skirts soon transformed into her infamous wrap dress after her two-piece outfit was seen worn together by Julie Nixon Eisenhower on the television. The combining of the garments to create the wrap dress sparked a buzz leading to the dress as a symbol of women’s liberation for the decade. The staple piece wasn’t just a simple cotton-jersey dress the world fell in love with, it was the fact that it was a confident uniform. The uproar continued as the silhouette and fabric of the garment was translatable onto women of all sizes, ages and shapes and soon became a staple in every woman’s wardrobe.

“I design for the woman who loves being a woman.” Diane von Furstenberg

As the wrap phenomenon continued, Furstenberg’s brand, DVF expanded worldwide featuring ready to wear and accessories including shoes, handbags, leather goods, jewelry and scarves in 55 countries. Landing on the cover of Wall Street Journal and Newsweek for selling over five million of her iconic wrap dresses in 1976 the latter dubbed Furstenberg, ‘the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel”. With the opening of her first luxury store at Sherry Netherland hotel on New York’s Fifth Avenue carrying the new couture collection, famous celebrities at the time including Brooke Shields and Queen of soul music, Aretha Franklin became regulars.

From designing to writing, Furstenberg wrote ‘DVF’s Book of Beauty’ on how to become a more confident, attractive and sensual woman. With experience in the writing industry, Furstenberg later took on the role of a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine. Developing her in-house cosmetics line, the 80’s were a time of beauty business with cosmetic and fragrance reaching $40 million in sales the second year. Starting to feel the pressure, Furstenberg sold her beauty line to British pharmaceutical giant, Beecham Group in 1983.

Furstenberg tied the knot with long time love, Barry Diller in 2001 after her divorce with previous husband Prince Egon zu Furstenberg. When the time came to launch her first fragrance, Furstenberg named it after her daughter, Tatiana with a tagline “for a woman to love and a man to remember” which was an instant hit on the market.

In 2005, Furstenberg was acknowledged for her contributions to the industry by receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA and within the year was elected as their new President. Under the role of CFDA’s president, Furstenberg fasters emerging talent and established The Design Piracy Prohibition Act, which protects designers from counterfeit reproductions of their work. Not only a true New York local, but Furstenberg is also a vocal member of the community and was actively involved in the campaign to save the historic High Line railway in residence of the Meatpacking District.

Not only does she empower young women through fashion, but also philanthropy and mentorship. Furstenberg currently sits on the board of Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization supporting female leaders and entrepreneurs around the world.

Offering four complete collections a year, DVF has a strong celebrity following including Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton. With 2014 being the 40th anniversary of her infamous wrap dress, surviving multiple decades and generations with mass appeal, a celebration arises for a garment responsible for embracing woman’s diversity and equality like never before and at 67, Furstenberg claims to be at the core of her busy.

TIMELINE

 

1946 – Diane von Furstenberg is born December 31st in Brussels, Belgium

1970– Furstenberg arrives in New York with a suitcase of designs

1974– Creates the wrap dress

1975- Introduces light, romantic fragrance Tatiana, named after her daughter

1979– Writes DVF’s Book of Beauty

1983– Moves to Paris and starts Salvy, a French language publishing house

1993– Becomes contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine

1997– Re-launches company with iconic wrap dress that started it all

1999– Writes memoir, Diane: A Signature Life about her success in the industry

2004– Collaborates with H. Stern to design fine jewelry

2005– Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from CFDA

2010– Establishes DVF Awards with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to honour grants to women displaying leadership in commitment to worthy causes

2011– Debuts home collection encompassing tabletop, rugs and bedding

2014 – Celebrates forty years of the wrap dress

Last word… on the topic of being yourself

[excerpts from her book, DVF’s Book of Beauty] “One of the most important things about fashion is to dress as well as you can, look as attractive as you can, and at the same time be comfortable with yourself. Be easy about your clothes; forget about them. If you’re not sure what to wear, if you don’t know how everyone else is going to be, then just be at your most beautiful. If there is one rule for dressing, for fashion, it’s pretty much the same rule as for everything else in life: Don’t go against yourself, don’t go against your own nature. It’s only going to show.”

QUOTES + CALL-OUTS:

‘I was born in Belgium. I went to school in England and in Switzerland, then I came to America, so I really feel like I am a citizen of the world.” Diane von Furstenberg

“Fashion is mysterious, as a rule. Why are blue jeans a classic? You just hit on something that happens to be timeless and right.” Diane von Furstenberg

By Josie Saldat inside the summer 2014 issue of NICHE

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