According to Newsweek, she is “the most marketable female in fashion since Coco Chanel”. To me, Diane von Furstenberg is simply an extraordinary fascinating woman – beautiful, talented, strong, independent, sensual and life-loving.
A child of a Holocaust-survivor mother, she was born in Belgium in 1947, studied in England and then Switzerland where she met prince Egon von Furstenberg at the age of 18 and then married him in 1969, gave birth to two beautiful children, Alexandre and Tatiana, met Diana Vreeland, launched her business and made her first ever sale at the Gotham Hotel in April 1970, invented the wrap dress that became iconic, separated from her husband, bought Cloudwalk, her family home, on 31 December 1974 when she turned 27 as a birthday present to herself, added cosmetics, luggage and interior design lines to her business, made it to the front page of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek in 1976, met President Ford, fell in love with Barry Diller who later became her husband, appeared on the cover of Interview, gave herself a 16-room apartment on Fifth Avenue as a present on her 30th birthday, discovered Gia who became a face of her cosmetics and perfume, revaluated her life having to deal with her mother’s breakdown, became somewhat distracted by her success and lost the track of her business empire, found her happiness and inspiration in Bali, sold her business, moved to Paris to be with Alain Elkann, an Italian writer, went through a painful discovery of his secret affairs, moved back to America, wrote a interior design book called Beds, followed by The Bath (1994) and The Table (1996), started her business from scratch by developing a line of silk pieces, Silk Assets to be sold on QVC in November 1992 in just two hours, survived cancer and successfully re-launched her brand in 1997. The rest is history in the making and we are the lucky witnesses of it.
If you want to discover more, there’s a wonderful read called Diane: A Signature Life, an autobiography the designer wrote in 1998. These inspirational and very personal quotes are from the pages of this book.
“My mother always pushed me toward independence and freedom.”
“It took me a long time to realise that my childhood feelings of plainness and sometimes even ugliness actually gave me an advantage. I felt I had to do things, to be intelligent and develop a personality in order to be seen as attractive.”
“All I had was an instinct that women wanted a fashion option besides hippie clothes, bell bottoms, and stiff pant-suits that hid their femininity.”
“Every store that had four walls and a ceiling was stocking the dresses like there is no tomorrow.”
“Though I acted very cool on the outside, inside I was a young, wide-eyed Belgian girl… Even more unsettling was the realisation that everyone knew who I was.”
“Marriage to any man for that matter was never a goal. I consider it a privilege to be able to support my lifestyle and my family myself.”
“I love love. Being in love was and is an essential part of living and breathing.”
“There has always been a side of me that likes to think that I would do anything for love.”
“Since 1980, it had become more important to me to be the faithful woman of a man than to be a businesswoman on her own with five phone lines.”
“My brush with cancer… gave me a new appreciation of life and health, though I’d thought I already had it.”
“Aging gracefully can be pleasurable.”
“We all do same things; what makes us different is how we do it.”
Photo source: Purisuitist