It is rare to find a creative, artistic designer who is also a brilliant business person. Diane von Furstenberg is one of these rare breeds. The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Diane was born in Belgium and as a college student met Prince Eduard Egon von Furstenberg, who she eventually married. Diane began designing clothes in the early 1970's, after she and Prince von Furstenberg, a Fiat heir, moved to New York. Her Park Avenue apartment was the first showroom for her designs, and as her marriage began to fail, she was determined to become financially independent. In 1973, she got her first big break (although I'd say marrying a prince might count as well) by introducing her signature wrap dress in silk jersey.
"Feel like a woman, Wear a dress!"
Her wrap dress instantly became a cult classic, allowing Diane to achieve her desired financial independence. Her designs were eyecatching and bright, turning heads as they showed off the female physique.
She became a fixture on the NYC social scene, where she befriended Andy Warhol at Studio 54. He famously painted her portrait and became an inspiration for her designs.
Photo courtesy of NY Times
My mom had a closet full of DVF from Montaldo's from the 1970's. My sister and I used to play dress-up in the dresses, my favorite of which was a sleeveless floor-length, figure-hugging navy plaid jersey dress with a matching jacket in the same fabric. If you ever need proof of today's vanity sizing, wow, I'd say my mom's size 12's from the 1970's are equivalent to present-day size 6.
Despite DVF's success in the 1970's, the brand experienced some growing pains in the 1980's as it expanded too quickly, becoming watered down due to over-licensing. Wanting to spend more time with her family, Diane took some time off to renew her creative energies. In 1997 she made a comeback by reintroducing the wrap dress to the fashion world.
I bought my first "new" DVF at Saks when I was in high school. It was blue and made me feel pretty, which was a rare moment as I, like many high school girls, was wrought with insecurity, with my style just beginning to evolve. But Gwyneth Paltrow had the same dress, so I was convinced it was chic and wore it despite all my guy friends telling me that girls looked much hotter in Abercrombie cargo pants.
Since the late 1990s, DVF's clothing line has grown tremendously, with many loyal devotees of her designs. Her dresses are flattering on many different body types, particularly a curvy figure. I have witnessed some rather heated discussions on whether or not to wear a camisole under a DVF wrap dresses. For the record, I always wear one, but I can appreciate the argument that a camisole detracts from the lines of the dress and is probably not what Diane herself intended. However, Diane appears to be a member of the IBTC, so for those of us who aren't, I think camisoles are perfectly acceptable.
In 2005, Diane von Furstenberg received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA.
Photo courtesy of AP
Always the entrepreneur, Diane is moving beyond fashion to home decor. As I was flipping through the new Elle Decor last night, I was delighted to see some photos from her new home line! Just like her timeless dresses, DVF Home uses vivid colors and playful geometric shapes. DVF Home will be based around three themes: country, urban, and sea. She developed her pieces in conjuction with Springs Global, and her extensive offerings include bedding, tabletop, glassware, stemware, bakeware, and towels.
If only we had seen this bedding before our dorm room design! I never get tired of floral bedding, especially with these abstract patterns and bright colors.
The prices seem pretty reasonable- a duvet is about $200 and bath towels are around $30.
Isn't this lucite flatware beautiful? I've been picking up pieces of vintage lucite flatware bit by bit, but the lines of these sets are nice and modern.
I'll admit that these plates aren't something I would typically use to set my table, but they strangely appeal to me in a mod "Warhol-meets-YSL Pop Art Dress" sort of way.
DVF Home is scheduled to hit department stores in January of 2011. It will also be available on the Diane von Furstenberg website, http://www.dvf.com/.
So what do you think? Will Princess Diane become a home decor queen?
Information sources: Home Textiles Today, Women's Wear Daily, NY Times, and Elle Decor