Diane von Furstenberg
This is the first in a series of posts devoted to influential strong women in the world of fashion. I am beginning the series with my favorite designer, Diane Von Furstenberg.
I first fell in love with the wrap dress before I ever knew much about Diane. Then, much later, I fell in love with her as a person due to her devotion to women empowerment and leadership.
Early in my professional career, my typical work outfit was the skirt suit with a button-down blouse and neck scarf. The typical outfit that mimicked how men dressed. After all, women worked in a man’s world! Over the years, we progressed to wearing pantsuits and eventually dresses with a jacket. Once it was considered appropriate to wear a dress, I gravitated to the wrap style as it was comfortable and very flattering. Of course, I would always buy from affordable brands like Dress Barn, Casual Corner, and Hit or Miss. Does anyone remember Casual Corner?
It wasn’t until I moved to Manhattan that I actually purchased a DVF wrap dress. I didn’t have many but I did have the Jeanne Chain Link dress .
Here’s a fairly recent picture of me in a DVF dress.
I have read a lot about Diane and her life – she has actually written two books with the latest being The Woman I Wanted to Be. She is considered one of the most influential women in fashion. She has won award after award. There is so much I could tell you about her life and her work. However, I pulled out some lesser known facts about Diane that are the reasons I believe she is a strong beautiful woman and one who inspires me.
- Diane’s mother was liberated from Auschwitz only 18 months before she was born. It was her mother who inspired her to become fearless. Strong women raise strong women.
- Her first success was a sweater dress named “Angela” which was a tribute to the activist Angela Davis. Strong women celebrate strong women.
- Diane designed the iconic wrap dress in 1972 after she saw Julie Nixon Eisenhower wear one of her wrap blouses with a skirt and decided to combine the two. Her designs were called liberating making her a prominent figure during the women’s movement of the ‘70s. Strong women are smart.
- After selling 5 million wrap dresses by 1976, her marriage and business were crumbling and she fled to Europe in 1983. Strong women fail and have setbacks.
- In 1990, she stated selling her line Silk Assets on QVC. She credits this step to building her self-confidence and led to her re-launching her business with her daughter in 1997. Strong women work hard, learn from past mistakes, and do what it takes. Still she persists!
- In 2010, as part of an initiative by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, she pledged to donate half of her fortune to Giving Pledge. Strong women give back.
- That same year, she launched the DVF awards to honor women with exceptional leadership skills. Each year, the People’s Voice Award is chosen by popular vote. You can see this year’s nominees here and vote for your favorite. The awards will be given on April 6th at a ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. As strong women rise, they bring up other strong women.
- And finally, I found this quote on her website:
I have never met a woman who is not strong.
Here is a personal tidbit. My oldest daughter Beth is a huge DVF fan. I wish she would send me a picture of her DVF wardrobe. Over the years, she has given me several items, the most recent being this lovely blouse. Here I am wearing it with my strong beautiful daughter by my side.
A number of years ago, on one of our shopping trips in Manhattan, we stopped at the DVF flagship store in the Meatpacking district. Guess what – Diane was there that day. Beth had bought a few items and Diane needed to see what she purchased and immediately told Beth that she was the “perfect DVF girl”, the working stylish woman. When Diane learned I lived in Rhode Island, she told us that both of her children had gone to Brown and she always loved visiting Providence. Of course, we had to take a picture!
I hope you now know a bit more about Diane, the person behind the iconic design. I want to leave you with another quote.
LOOK GREAT | FEEL GREAT | DO GREAT!