Earlier this week, I attended a talk on the iconic wrap dress delivered by the one and only Diane Von Fürstenberg. In true regal manner, this dynamic power-house waltzed in the room to awe and applause, and then proceeded to speak about her own journey in becoming the woman she is today.
Of course – she’s glamorous (she’s DVF after all!). But for me, she was so much more, as Von Fürstenberg recounted her earlier voyage from Europe and notably touched upon things that I’ve never even heard of (and certainly never considered before).
You see, she had gotten knocked up by her then boyfriend (I’m assuming the Swiss-born Prince Egon of Fürstenberg), when she was just a wee young thing, prompting him to propose and her to come to America. That pretty much sealed the deal and triggered a series of events which eventually led her to New York with her one lone suitcase, and subsequently listing her name on the Fashion Calendar for New York Fashion Week (we’ve all done it). Of course, along the way, Von Fürstenberg was able to heavily leverage her earlier apprenticeship under the textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti, combine her dense knowledge on prints and the fresh references of the innovate usage of the jersey fabric (apparently first adopted by the ladies of Saint-Tropez), and BAM!… out came the jersey wrap dress that shall forever thrive as the symbol of femininity and easy-chic.
“That was my first juice – the first collection.” She recounted with a charming wink.
This particular statement was what struck me the most as I listened to her, “what you do at first is often the very essence of what you’ll do later.”
How extraordinary to think, that after forty somewhat years – a young girl, wide-eyed and bushy tailed much like the rest of us (arguably prettier, slimmer, and with better connections), could then emerge to be the woman that many equate to as a household name within the highest echelon of fashion nobility, all on the back of a well-cut jersey T-shirt dress that draped and flattered the right figure!
It only goes to show that if you truly believe in your product, work your little tuchus off (and yes, rub shoulders here and there with the right crowd) – anything can happen. Good old ambition doesn't hurt either.
“I owe everything to the wrap dress,” admitted Von Fürstenberg.
“It’s a dress that’s both proper and sexy… the one that your boyfriend likes, and his mother doesn’t mind […] The one that will make you feel good during the day and is easy to take off at night. The collar is tailored but soft, and the print is something even your mum will remember and compliment you later on.”
This is why, my friends, something like a DVF wrap dress has been elevated to become a symbol of a woman, and then come to life as a movie character upon its own merits (think Taxi Driver and more recently, American Hustle) – and why it would warrant an exhibit all on its own, as was recently evidenced in LA by the “Journey of a dress” exhibit held at the LACMA.
At the end of the day, Von Fürstenberg left us with three tips on building a brand as successful as her wrap dress: (1) be serious; (2) know your style/ learn from others; and (3) make sure that what you do makes sense.
Something for you to chew on ladies and gents… and certainly not a bad way to spend a weekday evening!
Happy Thursday all!!!