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TETE-A-TETE WITH DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

Diane von Fürstenberg is creator of the iconic silk jersey wrap dress and is described as a cerebral presence... and she's certainly one of the most likable I've met! 

Early in our conversation she quips that when asked by a journalist in the Eighties how she came up with the wrap dress she retorted tongue-in-cheek: "If you're trying to slip out of the room without waking someone, zips and buttons can be cumbersome!" She smiles at the memories and then continues: "If you understand yourself, you understand the psyche of all women." That belief may be the answer to von Fürstenberg's lucrative empire which began when she arrived in New York in 1972 with her first husband Prince Egon von Fürstenberg, a child and a suitcase of wrap dresses. She rummages in her handbag and brings out some photographs: one of herself at 22 in a black-and-white wrap dress and another of Michelle Obamas 35 years later in which she is wearing the same dress! "That wasn't the result of some marketing strategy..."

Despite a cooling in the Nineties when minimalism reigned, the brand make a triumphant return the following decade. "This may sound like an oxymoron but the older I get the younger my clientele get! Perhaps it's because I really do understand women. My clothes empower women. Of course, the wrap has existed in the form of the toga and the kimono but what was new about mine was that it was crafted from jersey silk so it molded itself to the body, which made a woman feel feline and comfortable. If you're comfortable you feel poised... and if you're poised you feel attractive. As a result, the wrap dress was seen as a sign of women's liberation in the 1970s. Even today... it still forms a significant percent of my business. It is functional and flattering."
 
In 2005, Diane received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for her impact on fashion, and a year later was elected President, an office she continues to hold. In this role she has dedicated herself to fostering emerging talent and helping to establish the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. The DVF look continues to be one of the most clearly defined—and thus identifiable—on the fashion map. "I believed in a concept and did not deviate my focus from it," is her mantra for success. Amen.
 
 
24-MARCH-2012
 
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