Fashion goddess. Fashion Icon. Fashion Revolutionary. These are some of the words used to describe Diane von Furstenberg. Last week I was invited to hear the inspirational story of the woman behind the iconic wrap dress, held at the futuristic glass-walled Lasalle College of the Arts Campus. This series of “fashion talks” marked the kick off to (insert name of non existent car sponsor here…wait what goodbye Audi??!!!) Singapore Fashion Week, and we will give you our thoughts about the shows in another post.
Some facts you may not known about DVF : Diane was born to Jewish parents and was born in Belgium. Her mother survived Auschwitz concentration camp. Later in life, Diane was a real princess when she married into German royalty, although has since lost the “Princess” title after divorcing her husband. Her influence on women’s fashion is so profound that she even has some designs showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Diane shared how in her early 20’s, she landed in the U.S. with a suitcase of five dresses she had made in Italy from Jersey cloth (as she considered this fabric to be most flattering for women but also made you feel a million bucks when wearing it) . DvF managed to secure an appointment with the well known socialite editor of Vogue, Diana Vreeland – an advocate of celebrating uniqueness. Vreeland loved DVF’s simple style and elegance and this set the stage for the remarkable growth and success of DVF. Within six years of entering the fashion world in 1970, Diane had created a fashion frenzy and was selling 25,000 dresses a week. The journey of the dress sees the brand now in over 70 countries and enjoys worldwide recognition.
Fun fact: Natasha accepted an invitation to visit the flagship boutique in the Meatpacker’s District in Manhattan and is often seen wearing a DVF wrap out and about in Singapore. It’s getting a bit too hot for me to do the same in Hong Kong, but I do love my DvF dresses and think they are perfect when indoors and the air-con has been working in overdrive.
Diane has become quite the philanthropist and takes pride in inspiring young women in the industry to succeed. One of her mantra’s that she mentioned at the talk was “your only regret in life should be not doing the things you want to”. WOW. On a personal level that really spoke to me, as after leaving corporate world to start up my own business “Survive Asia“, I do have days where I wonder whether it would have been easier to stay in my previous line of work with all its security and benefits. But then i hear those words from DvF’s and I realise that i WOULD have regretted not trying, so it made my heart skip a beat. And during the talk I sat next to other inspiring entrepreneurial women in Singapore who have also taken a leap of faith, and we were all moved by this. It was also inspiring to see that via the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), Diane and other designers who have “made it” are able to mentor the new generation of designers coming on board – it’s what she now refers to as the “legacy” stage in her career.
Another positive note from the talk: Diane mentioned her latest “muse” is women who are comfortable with themselves in their own skin (now we’re talking, if only all designers in the industry thought like this!).
After the talk (the lecture hall was packed with not one seat left), there was some classic “mingling” with fashion folk in the courtyard of La Salle, and I managed to chat to gorgeous Brittany Hampton, the winner of the E! show “House of DVF” and Ambassador for the DVF brand.
Overall the reception from the DvF talk was very positive – the crowd were pumped after her inspiring talk and it was great to see a positive side of the industry that was supportive, inclusive and celebrating women everywhere (because let’s face it, the fashion industry can feel anything but the above sometimes!).