Who: Belgian-born fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, founder of DVF
The Look: Garments that convey female confidence and strength
Known for: Creating the signature jersey wrap dress in 1974
Personal Backstory: Before launching her label, she was married to the late Prince Egon von Fürstenberg, also a fashion designer, and raised by a mother who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.
You created the iconic wrap dress 40 years ago. Why do you think it has had such lasting power?
You know, I had no idea the wrap dress would become such a phenomenon. It was such a simple little dress, but it was a dress that allowed women to go to work and still feel like a woman. It gave them independence and confidence when that was exactly what they needed. But really, I think it is a dress that is all about the woman, and that is what has made it timeless.
Tell us about your latest collection.
Spring 2014 is called Oasis, and it is all about finding serenity and beauty in the unexpected. The colors are black and white with pops of bright blue and dreamy sunset neutrals. The silhouettes are also important, from a corset and flare skirt combo to chic tunics over pants and sleek column dresses that flatter the body.
Your garments exude qualities you possess: glamour, sexiness and confidence. How do you harness these qualities in your personal life, and how do you convey them in your aesthetic?
Thank you. I think it is really the confidence that leads to glamour and sexiness. It is all about a joie de vivre and being true to yourself. So I try to be true to who I am and hope that it comes through in my life and my designs.
Do you have a muse?
I am inspired by all women. I have never met a woman who is not strong. And there is nothing more inspiring than a woman who knows her own strength.
What’s your must-have fashion for spring?
The corset top is really important, and the column dress. And something black and white, like a zebra-printed tunic!
What other projects are you working on?
Well, I am working on a book that will come out in May. It is called The Woman I Wanted to Be, and it is really about my life and the things I have learned and continue to learn along the way.
What’s it like to look back on your career and success over the years?
I try not to look back too often, but this book has certainly been about that. To me, the most exciting time is always the present, and it’s interesting because I see that even as I look back on my career—I can see how captivated I have always been with the moment.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment, career or otherwise?
I always say that my children are my greatest creation, so in terms of accomplishments, I consider myself very lucky to have built a successful family and a successful career.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
My mother, Lily. She was a very strong woman and she always taught me that fear was not an option. She was a Holocaust survivor and she was not meant to have a child, but then I was born. It was really a miracle. She told me that she survived in order to give me life. So that has been my flag to carry, and it has always kept me going. It has made me more willing to take risks and to fail, which is so important because your failures are really your lessons.
What’s your life motto?
“Fear is not an option.” And, “Be the woman you want to be!” I love mantras. I could go on all day.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I try not to feel guilt, because then it’s not really a pleasure, but maybe the answer you are looking for is something like dark chocolate or a glass of tequila.