Belgian born Diane von Furstenberg first embarked on a career in fashion in the late sixties after moving to the United States. Although she had no formal qualifications in fashion design, she quickly became a success with her range of dresses, a new style of women’s fashion designed to be elegant yet simple and accessible. Her manufacturing business quickly rose to prominence, and she expanded it over the years with accessory, jewelry and cosmetic fashion lines.
A Gap in the Market
At a time when more and more women were entering the workforce, she saw there was a growing need for women’s clothing that was both practical and professional as well as stylish and chic, and aimed to produce designs catering to this.
The Iconic Wrap Dress
In 1972, she pioneered the wrap dress, which would become her signature dress. Lauded as a chic and sexy, easy-to-wear style which flattered all body shapes, its success took off overnight and firmly established von Furstenberg as one of the top designers in the world of fashion. Her success was largely due to her talent for designing dresses which women of all shapes could look stylish and sexy in, yet were still practical to wear. Of the new, modern way of life for women she said: “You don’t sit around in little white gloves and big hats and try to look fashionable. You have a job, a husband or lover and children,” and the collections she has launched over the years reflect this. Her fashion lines soon branched out into sportswear, beachwear, lingerie, and even house wear, all of which enjoy a high level of success.
Von Furstenberg has had two successful books published, in 1976, “Book of Beauty,” which detailed her approach to fashion and design and in 1998 her autobiography, “Diane: A Signature Life.” She has also appeared as a judge on several episodes of “Project Runway.”
In 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and is currently serving as its president.
She has also contributed a lot to charity and serves as a director of the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, which donates to non-profit organizations, she created the DVF Awards, which awards $50,000 to four women annually who display leadership in women’s causes, and she is on the board of Vital Voices, which provides support to entrepreneurial women around the world.
Currently, her Spring/Summer 2012 collection “Beginnings” has been launched and features a variety of off beat colors, floral prints, and kimono style dresses.