Dynamic Duo: Diane von Furstenberg and Ken Downing Take Chicago!

November 15, 2016 • Chicago, Designers, Fashion Blog

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Diane von Furstenberg visited Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue for a rare appearance and runway presentation and (double bonus) Ken Downing curated the show! I had the opportunity to go backstage prior to the presentation and chat with Ken as he meticulously styled the models in Diane von Furstenberg’s fall collection with fun sunglasses, blingy jewelry and tall boots. Both Lauren and I adore NM Fashion Director Ken Downing! I have had the opportunity to meet him several times through the years at his seasonal trend presentations at Neiman Marcus, which totally inspires women to go for it! His styling technique mixes, matches and layers on pieces that may seem unexpected but always come together flawlessly! His bold approach empowers women, which I later learned is one of Diane von Furstenberg’s goals. No wonder she and Ken work so well as a team!

SCS: Does Diane von Furstenberg usually let others style her presentations?

KD: No, but she lets me because Diane and I have been great friends for many years.

SCS: What do you think are the best trends for women as they get older?

KD: Trends are ageless. Women should wear what makes them feel most confident

SCS: Are there any particular trends you are loving for Fall 16?

KD: Yes! I’m in love with velvet this season. You can wear it 365 days a year. I think you can wear a velvet year round and for every day. Women can think of wearing velvet like denim! I love boots this season because they are super modern and you can wear them with culottes and pants. The new boots add a 70s swagger! Its is always about owing your personal style. You need to love a trend to own it and then y9u will look amazing.

SCS: Are there any trends we should avoid?

KD: Never be afraid of fashion! People need to embrace fashion and if they become a victim of trends and the clothes begin to wear them, it’s game over!

As he was talking to me he fixed the earrings and hair on a model and said, “The world is crazy enough, but isn’t it great we can enjoy fashion?” At that moment I saw styling and fashion as one of the greatest art forms that can bring joy to everyone. He touched my fashion-loving heart.

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Then Diane von Furstenberg and Ken Downing presented the fall ’16 DVF collection. Diane said, “I rarely do this but I love the store manager at this store.” She told the audience she wants DVF to be every woman’s “friend” in the closet for those days you aren’t sure about what to wear. Her pieces are lightweight and packable, can be mixed and match from day to evening and day to day. “If you pack lightly, you will live well,” she said. As CFDA President, Diane von Furstenberg told us she loves to travel. We saw the famous wrap dress along with lace, leather, culottes and jumpsuits. She told us she loves pant and mixing menswear with feminine looks. Her 1,2,3 Assymetric Convertible Coat received ohhs and ahhs from the crowd because it can be unzipped and worn 3 different lengths. She also said she recently appointed Jonathan Saunders as the new Chief Creative Officer of her brand.

I was able to catch her backstage after the fashion presentation. She only had a few minutes because she was going to fly back to New York that evening. When I met her face-to-face I noticed how petite she is, and I gushed a little because… this was Diane von Furstenberg! A million wrap dresses rushed before my eyes. I told her how much I love the travel aspect to her collection (frankly it is not something I thought of) and she told me, “Everything in the collection is packable…everything!” I asked her about Jonathan Saunders who was recently appointed as Chief Creative Officer of her brand. I wondered if this was her way of stepping back a little and allowing someone else do more of the work. “Yes,” she told me. “This is not his collection, but the next one will be, and I will still have a lot to do with it. It is an easy transition because Jonathan and I share the same love of color, prints and draping and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

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Shop Diane von Furstenberg at Neiman Marcus

– Carol Calacci

Photos and video: Second City Style

See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40

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