Diane von Furstenberg: The ultimate Wonder Woman

Diane von Fürstenberg
At university, when she was 18, she met Prince Egon of Fürstenberg.
At 22 they got married which was not popular with the groom’s family because she was jewish.
Through her marriage Diane became Princess Diane of Fürstenberg.

The couple had 2 children, Prince Alexander (born six months after their wedding) and Princess Tatiana, who were born in New York City.

In 1970, with a $30,000 investment, she began designing women’s clothes. “The minute I knew I was about to be Egon’s wife, I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts.”

She designed a still-iconic dress in 1974.

And she became an overnight fashion sensation.
By the age of 27, she had sold more than five million dresses.
And bought herself an idyllic home in the country located in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
By 29 she was on the cover of Newsweek.
Her marriage to Egon failed when their two children, Alexandre and Tatiana, were still toddlers and he admitted publicly to a series of affairs. They got divorced in 1972.
She was a regular at Studio 54, which she’s described as ‘the best pick-up joint in the world‘.
But she insists she wasn’t living out some hedonistic fantasy. ‘Listen, at the time I was supposed to be clubbing I had two children, I lived with my mother, I had a business, blah blah blah, so it’s not like I could club and lose my mind and be on drugs all night. It was impossible. I would go to a club, but for two hours.

She was wildly successful with men.

After her divorce, Diane had flings with Richard Gere and Warren Beatty, and made a joke of asking Rolling Stone editor Jenn Werner to guess how many of his cover stars she’d seduced.

She had sex like a man: ‘But only in the Seventies. Look. It was fun. We were a generation that was young between the pill and Aids, and… well, you know. Men were… necessary. I like them. I’ve stopped flirting now, but yes, I was a good flirt. A good seductress. A hunter.

She didn’t know she was attractive. You never know when you are young. And now when I look at the pictures, I think: ‘Oh my God! Why didn’t I think I was beautiful?

But she enjoyed sex. Sex was an integral part of her life (‘though I don’t like this word “sex”, I prefer “sensuality“); it was sex that crucially inspired the wrap, a dress purpose-designed to facilitate illicit liaisons. They’re easy to put on, and easy to take off, and they’ve got no zips so they’re noiseless in transition: ‘They’re comfortable,’ said Von Furstenberg at the time of the first generation launch, ‘and if you’re comfortable, you act comfortable, and then you get laid.’

And among her friends were Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berger and Bianca Jagger.

Her 1980s sexy office was designed by the Switzer Group. She requested a mixture of transatlantic ocean liner and Esther Williams movies.

 In her office there were an Art Nouveau desk and pair of Art Deco armchairs – gifts from family and friends.
Her 1980s office was a exercise in Deco sensuality.
Things fell apart rather in the Eighties. The business faltered, and when she sold the company ‘it completely deteriorated. That was horrible. I always say I have three children: a son, a daughter, and a brand, so to see the brand die… But I got it back again!
She made a triumphant comeback in 1997 and rebuilt her company after her daughter Tatiana noticed that her associates hunting vintage shops in search of her mother’s wraps. ‘It felt like I had created something that was very special, (…), and I wanted it back. In between [the first and second generations of DvF], I was in Paris, and I had a publishing house, but somehow… it was not the same.
And the reborn wrap sparked a virtual fashion revolution.

 

What’s important to me is to share, and being inspired, and inspiring.’

It’s this that makes her residually youthful, although she says she knows people look at her ‘and wonder why I haven’t done anything to my face‘.

‘I realize that very often what you hate is what makes you special. I personally am attracted by wrinkles because it is the map of your life’.
Her opinion about plastic surgery: “To erase is the horrible thing, because if you erase things in your face, you basically erase souvenirs, you basically erase memory, you basically erase pieces of you that made you. And it’s the layers of your life that give you character“.
“Beauty is perfect in its imperfections, so you just have to go with the imperfections”
I’ve always liked wrinkles. When I was a young girl, I used to make lines on my face with my nails because I loved Jeanne Moreau. I always added years to my life.
In 2001, she married American media mogul Barry Diller.

 

They had been involved off and on since the 1970s. But their relationship confused people enormously, because Diller was widely presumed to be gay. ‘She gives him straightness and he gives her powerfulness,’ Andy Warhol wrote of their union at the time.
As of 2009 she is president of American fashion’s governing body, the CFDA.
Andy Warhol immortalized her in pop-art portraits.
Her dear friend Oscar de la Renta describes her this way: “Her energy is boundless, and she is passionate about life and about her children and her friends. At the same time, she’s not a social butterfly; she’s a person of great depth.”
Her range now includes homewares…
…and a fabric line!
And she put her savvy fashion stamp on a series of suites of Claridge’s, one of the world’s most famous and glamorous hotels in London.
Her original wrap dress, produced in 1973, is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (view here).
Her over the top headquarters are now located New York’s Meatpacking District and it was designed by Work Architecture Company (WORKac).
And God knows what else this fabulous woman is capable of!
I know I am inspired, aren’t you?
Text Sources: Harper’s BAZAAR Interview, Guardian Interview

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