Wednesday, Sep 18th
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Diane von Furstenberg
"I design for the woman who loves being a woman. Attitude is everything."
Known as the “most marketable designer since Coco Chanel”, Diane Von Furstenberg is a fashion icon. Born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin and raised in Brussels, Belgium, she attended the University of Geneva to study economics. At school Diane Halfin met her future husband Prince Egon Von Furstenberg (who she was married to from 1969-1972). She got her first job in 1969 at a silk printing factory and soon found herself creating sample dresses. The following year, the new Von Furstenberg, along with her husband, relocated to New York City. Determined to make something of herself, by 1972 she had designed her first article of clothing, a shirtdress. With $30,000 and support from then editor of Vogue, Diana Vreeland, the ‘Diane Von Furstenberg’ label was established. By 1974, inspired by traditional Japanese kimonos, Von Furstenberg unveiled her signature look; the wrap dress. Her subtle yet sexy dress intended for the working woman to wear both in the boardroom and out on the town, was an overnight success. Within a year, she expanded her label to include production on eyewear, accessories and luggage; quickly becoming a lifestyle brand. Just two years after the introduction of the wrap dress, Von Furstenberg’s sales were in the millions, landing her on the cover of both Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. To this day, Diane Von Furstenberg is the only fashion designer to grace the cover of Newsweek magazine. Her company’s expansion continued throughout the late seventies with the launch of her first fragrance in 1976. By 1979 she introduced her cosmetics line and in an effort to share her beauty secrets with the world published her first book, “Diane Von Furstenberg’s Book of Beauty”.
In the early eighties Diane Von Furstenberg began licensing off her company when she saw the decline in sales and a change in womenswear design aesthetics. She then left the United States in 1985 and moved to Paris, where she started up the publishing house, ‘Salvy’. After five years in Paris, Von Furstenberg returned home to New York City and in 1992 re-entered the fashion world by producing the clothing line, ‘Silk Assets’, sold exclusively on QVC. During her debut appearance, the affordably priced designs sold out within two hours. Her new line was a hit and by 1997, Diane Von Furstenberg was ready to build her brand again. She successfully re-launched her label, this time under the name ‘DVF’. She designed a ready-to-wear collection filled with her trademarks: graphic floral prints, cinched waist skirt-suits, and of course the wrap dress. Her hippie chick look mixed in with forties glamour appeals to women of all ages and ranks including celebrities like Mary Tyler Moore, Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum, Jennifer Garner, Blake Lively and America Ferrera. With her triumphant re-launch and a fresh new start, in 1998, Von Furstenberg published her memoir; “Diane: A Signature Life”.
Fueled by the desire for global expansion, in 2003, Von Furstenberg opened her first overseas store, ‘DVF the Shop’, in London’s Knotting Hill. To date the DVF collection is sold in the most exclusive stores and boutiques internationally and operates free standing shops in locations all over the world like Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, Hong Kong and Belgium. Additionally in 2003, she introduced the fragrance, ‘D’, and a new cosmetics line under the name ‘Diane Von Furstenberg Beauty’. In 2005 the Council of Fashion Designers of America honored Von Furstenberg with the Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2006 she was president of the CFDA. Throughout 2007, Von Furstenberg’s expansion exploded when she presented new lines of swim and beach wear, footwear and handbags (including MyCloset.com’s favorite, the wrap bag).
Thanks to the important influence Diane Von Furstenberg’s ‘wrap dress’ had on women’s fashion, a sample hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Von Furstenberg published a series of coffee table books; “Beds” in 1991, “The Bath” in 1993, and “The Table” in 1996. She expanded her headquarters in New York City’s meatpacking district, in 2001, to include a design studio, a boutique and a theatre space for emerging artists, like experimental dance troupe, ‘DASS Dance’ (who wear costumes designed by DVF). In 2008, Diane Von Furstenberg appeared as a guest judge on season five of Bravo’s hit show, Project Runway. Over the years, Von Furstenberg has partnered with, Venus Williams and Reebok to design a line of women’s tennis wear (RBK by DVF), H.Stern (DVF by H.Stern), The Rug Company and T-mobile.