This wrap dress queen was recently featured on MTV’s The City for one of her many reality tv show collaborations. But she is more than a boss or a fashion critique. Much, much more.
Born on December 31, 1946 in Brussels, Belgium, DVF‘s real name was Diane Simone Michelle Halfin. Her Jewish middle class family consisted of her father was Leon Halfin who was Russian and served in WWII and her mother was Liliane Nahmias, a Greek Holocaust survivor.
She attended finishing schools in Switzerland, Spain and England. In 1965 she went to the University of Madrid and transferred the next year to the University of Geneva in Switzerland and studied economics. It was there that she met Austro-Italian Prince Egon von Furstenberg, heir to the Fiat automobile fortune. They got married in Paris July 16, 1969. When she realized she was to be married to him she decided she wanted a career and make something of herself and not just the girl who married up. Of course, for her wedding she wore her own design that was made by the house of Dior.
In 1969 she worked as an apprentice with Italian textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti and began making his signature simple jersey dress .
Late 1969 the von Furstenbergs changed location and moved to New York City so the Prince could work on Wall Street. It was in New York that she was making samples out of her dining room of her Park Avenue apartment.
Her top cheerleaders Bill Blass, Kenny Lane, and Diana Vreeland encouraged her to put together a collection of her dresses. In April of 970 she had her first show at the Gotham Hotel in NYC within a moderate price range of 25-100 dollars.
In April of 1972 she established her own manufacturing business to make more clothing on a large scale. Richard Conrad and her father’s $30,000 loan were the keys to Diane’s first showroom on Seventh Avenue. It was there that she created her sweater dress named Angela after the black activist Angela Davis. She then birthed her wrap dress that topped $1 million dollars within the first few months. She was selling 20,000 wrap dresses per week.
Her business only continued to grow after the split. She added more to her line such as furs, jewelry, shoes, scarves, sunglasses and the works, even house wears.
In 1977 she published her book Diane von Furstenberg’s Book of Beauty.
Diane is much like our other business savvy designer, Liz Claiborne, in that she appealed to working women with her clothing. However her approach was to give them more luxurious clothing that would work for them during their work days. As if she wasn’t already doing enough, she even included nurse uniforms and eye glasses which contributed to her $1 billion in sales in the 80’s.
In 1985 she took an unexpected turn and moved to France to live with novelist Alain Elkann and founded a publishing house. 4 years later they broke up and she moved back to the US to her trusty farm in Connecticut that she lived in through her first marriage and break up.
In 1991 she made another book Beds and in 1993 The Bath for celebrity homes and bathrooms. Her commercial success only grew larger and larger with the years. In 1993 she also brought Lowel Nesbitts studio upon the death of the artist. The studio was famous for the figures and celebrities who once gathered there and even had a indoor swimming pool. She used this space until the early 2000’s until it was sold and demolished.
In 1997 she published yet another book, this time a memoir ” Diane: A signature Life.” She also relaunched her clothing line this year and her wrap dress was once again warming the hearts of women everywhere.
- 2006 President of the CFDA
- 2005 CFDA life time achievement award
- 1986 May of the City of New York’s Statue of Liberty Medal
- 1984- 1988 Savvy Magazine Award
- 1984 Einstein College of Medicine Spirit of Achievement Award
- 1983 City of Hope Spirit of Life Award
- 1977 Fragrance foundation award
More recently, actually from today, was the CFDA meeting held to discuss the future of fashion week. What was once a trade show is now becoming a burden for designers and their financially failing lines. It is costing them more then they are getting back and all the designers expressed their concerns to Diane, the president, in a town hall meeting style. Though no consensus was reached, Diane did reassure everyone that she will have a solution before she leaves office.
Well I think Diane is the B O M B D O T C O M because I mean who else do you know modeled a dress after a black activist ? I am honestly love everything she has done and I think she is a woman to emulate. She married up and decided that she wanted to work and be independent, how many times have you heard that. Usually woman take the lazy route when they marry royalty, but not Diane. I’m so loving her Bestey Johnson-esque, Lavin-like clothing. It is fun and well constructed. She knows what women want and she has been knowing that since the beginning of her career.
I am also impressed that she takes her business very seriously. For example she did not hesitate to sue Target and Forever 21 for copying her designs. She also speaks out against the unmentionables: underweight models and lack of diversity on the runways. Did I mention that she opens her studio regularly to host cultural events? Honestly, who could be a better role model ?
She is a woman who makes her own money, obtains her own success, stands up for what she believes in , and continues to grow as the years pass by and personally, I NEED to be like that. I’m also definitely not surprised that she is still making money through this recession, only the best of the best are. Her economics background, people-person personality, and eye for what women want are all factors that play into her success through out the years.
I am so impressed with her. That’s the bottom line.