Diane Von Fürstenberg/ By Lee Yeffet

One of the most well known and honored fashion designers Diane von Fürstenberg burst into the industry in 1974 with the dress that has changed the face of fashion and the life of the designer- the Wrap Dress.

The designer was born in 1946 in Belgium to a Jewish family where the mother was also a survivor from Auschwitz  concentration camp. Her mother was a role model for Diane, and a lot of Von Fürstenberg’s inspiration, strength and agenda in life comes from her mother’s perspective of feminism, life and power.[1]

Her first practice in the fashion industry started in Paris, when she was an assistant  fashion photographer for Albert Koski. Afterwards, she continued to Italy and entered as an apprentice in the textile manufacturing business of Angelo Ferretti; there she acquired knowledge  about knitting, cut, color printing and fabric[2]. Her first silk jersey dresses were maid in that factory.

Her big success arrived when she was living in New York where she launched the revolutionary Wrap Dress in 1972. The slogan that came with the dress was one of the most influential and powerful of that time and left a signature on the dress, the designer, and women all over the world: “Feel like a woman. Wear a dress. »[3]

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[6]
A wrap dress is a dress that has a front closure when you wrap one side over the other, wrapping around the back and at the waist. This method of wearing a dress creates a low V neck shape,[4] and emphasizes the woman’s curves, and  is inspired by the Traditional Japanese Kimono.[5]

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DVF website, the “Wrap dress” Spring 2016

The wrap dress had already been made before the big sensation of the 70’s. According to Richard Martin, a former curator in Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the wrap dress was designed as part of sportswear for women before Von Fürstenberg’s version. According to him, she offered her dress with more colors and synthetic fabric that were giving a brighter and bolder image.[6]

The methods of her work that are present are relateable to her feminist agenda behind the design, emphasizing the woman’s body with elastic synthetic jersey, with long sleeves and a knee length. While everyone else designed stiffer clothes and pants, her designs were much more soft, feminine and revealing of the body.[7,8] It wasn’t just a new trend in fashion, it came with a statement which empowered women’s sexuality, freedom and social standing. [9]She acquired her attitude towards her work in the fashion business in Paris, right from the beginning, as she mentions,

No one in fashion set acted very serious about work, though most worked very hard. It was important to appear laid back and cool.”  [10] 

In 1974 she was already selling millions of wrap dresses: “iIt was part of a movement of being a woman, and enjoying being a woman”.[11]

Von Fürstenberg and the dress as one, became a symbol of the 70’s, when in 1976 Diane was on the cover of Newsweek under the headline; “the most marketable female in fashion since Coco Chanel. »[12]  It seems as it became her goal, to design garments that will represent women’s strength, liberation which gave a new sense of independence for women.  Her immediate success continued, and saw her launching a cosmetic line, accessories, and life style.

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Newsweek Cover, Marche 22 1976 [5]
Another major success that occurred for Von Furstenberg was when in 1992 she sold in less than 2 hours her “silk assets” with the net worth of 1.2 million dollars, on the T.V. channel QVC. It gave her the drive to make a business come back after a break when she had licensed away her label in the 1980’s, due to a decline of sales and changes in the styles of that time.[13]

In 1997 she relaunched her famous dress and a new collection, along with her company under the name of “DVF” for the new generation.  This received huge attention and brought the designer back to her greatness. In 2010, another accomplishment occurred when Michel Obama wore the redesigned Wrap dress on the White house Christmas card.

In 2005 the Council of Fashion Designers of America honored Von Furstenberg with the Lifetime Achievement Award .A year later, she was president of the CFDA. Currently she is on the board of Vital Voices which helps girls and women all over the world , and for the “DVF awards”  for women who have shown leadership, strength and courage in their causes.

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The Annual DVF Awards[15]
The design of Von Fürstenberg’s Wrap dress is hung today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY & FOOTNOTES

  1. The wrap Dress- http://www.fashionmodeldirectory.com/designers/diane-von-frstenberg/
  2. DVF site- http://www.dvf.com/world-of-dvf/
  3. Ney York Times 1988- http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/01/style/01iht-fash.t.html
  4. New York Magazine – http://nymag.com/thecut/fashion/designers/diane-von-furstenberg/
  5. Makers website- http://www.makers.com/diane-von-furstenberg
  6. HUFF Blog- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-hannah-grufferman/the-wrap-star-why-diane-von-furstenberg_b_1281376.html
  7. CBS News – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-dress-changed-diane-von-furstenbergs-life/
  8. Diane Von Fürstenberg- http://www.npr.org/2014/10/24/358550381/40-years-later-diane-von-furstenbergs-wrap-dress-still-wears-well
  9. Fashionpeida – http://www.mycloset.com/fashionpedia/?l=553…Diane
  10. A Signature of Life: https://books.google.fr/books?redir_esc=y&hl=fr&id=KhFRtzAP3NoC&q=koski#v=snippet&q=koski&f=false
  11.   American Ingenuity: Sportswear, 1930s-1970s, By Richard Harrison Martin, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.): https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0ByvsBRNapAC&pg=PA35&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false
  12.  The GuardianDiane von Furstenberg: ‘I danced at Studio 54. Now I work with Google’-      by Jess Carter Morely, Tuesday 1 July 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/jul/01/diane-von-furstenburg-stuido-54-google-wrap-dress-oprah-warhol-anna-wintour
  13.  Diane von Furstenberg 05 APRIL 2012 Bibby Sowray- http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/biographies/diane-von-furstenberg
  14. Diane Von Furstenberg Dress Pattern- http://stopatternov.com/diane-von-furstenberg-dress-pattern/
  15. Vouge Images – http://www.vogue.com/slideshow/designer/diane-von-furstenberg/#709021
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