Haute Historian: Diane Von Furstenberg, Master Of Modern Dress

January 21, 2014 • Haute Historian, Magazine


Diane von Furstenberg once said, “I design for the woman who loves being a woman.” That mindset has been ingrained in her collections since she began designing in 1969. Furstenberg brought her pieces to Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland’s office in January 1970 and was promptly told she would be a big success. Her first fashion show was the following April. Forty years later, her infamous wrap dresses are featured in an exhibit called “Journey of a Dress” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the designer’s iconic creation.

Furstenberg didn’t plan to have a career in fashion. She studied at Stroud Court in England, and then in Madrid and the University of Geneva before meeting His Serene Highness Eduard Egon von und zu Furstenberg, who would later become her husband. She realized she wanted to make clothes while she apprenticed with Italian textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti. Inspired by the beautiful fabrics, she began to create a collection. And then she had her fateful meeting with Vreeland.

Her clothes, which are easy to wear and flattering at the same time, became an instant favorite in the U.S. Within a few years, her clothes were already featured in photoshoots and she was the subject of feature stories in such publications as Vogue and Interview. “Clothes have to reflect women’s liberation,” she tells the Los Angeles Times. “Women today want versatile, simple, classic, comfortable, slimming clothes. This is the story of my success.”

Furstenberg has dabbled in furniture design, makeup and knitwear. She eventually added scarves, bathing suits, sunglasses and jewelry to the mix. She has also won numerous awards, including the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is now the president of the CFDA (currently in her fourth term), helping burgeoning fashion designers kick-start their careers.

1. Diane von Furstenberg in one of the first campaigns for the wrap dress, 1970

2. Diane von Furstenberg with Andy Warhol, 1974, Photo by Tim Boxer

3. Andy Warhol, Diane von Furstenberg, 1974, © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

4. Diane von Furstenberg at Journey of a Dress, 2014

5. Wrap dress from Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014 RTW Collection

– Tanisha Wallis

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