WOMEN CRUSH WEDNESDAY: Diane von Furstenburg
Many designers express themselves best through their art, their design. Diane von Furstenberg happens to have mastered the ability to also express herself and the women she's dedicated her life to inspiring and empowering through her actions, generosity, and powerful words.
A mere 18 months after her mother was released from Auschwitz concentration camp, Diane Simone Michelle Halfin was born in Brussels, Belgium. Her mother's strength would prove to be influential and inspiring to her for the rest of her career and life. While originally attending college for economics, Diane met and soon married Prince Egon zu Furstenberg, an heir to the Fiat fortune. It was after their marriage that she decided to pave a career for herself and began designing clothing for women. They moved to Paris and she began to work as a fashion photographer's agent assistant. That position later lead her to an apprenticeship with Angelo Ferretti, a textile manufacturer. It was here that she gained knowledge and experience with fabric, cut, cloth and began to work on her own designs.
Diane von Furstenberg and her husband had two children before an amicable divorce with the prince. She had already began to establish herself as a designer and had established a manufacturing business and showroom in New York. Always the supportive feminist, she designed a popular sweater dress that she named "Angela," after black activist Angela Davis.
By far the most successful and iconic design of DvF's was the wrap dress. This functional, versatile staple was designed for the career minded woman, easily functioning as a comfortable professional piece as well as elegant evening wear. The wrap dress was more than just another article of clothing, it became a symbol of women's liberation and donned women of various sizes, wealth, and races.
Branching out from fashion, DvF founded a publishing company, a home-shopping business, a fragrance line, and a cosmetic line. She also began publishing her own books, including a series examining the interiors and lives of rich and famous elite, a business memoir, and an empowerment memoir titled "The Woman I Wanted to Be."
Diane von Furstenberg has been awarded many times over for her skill, including a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, an organization that she soon after became president of. She has so launched her own DVF Awards which recognises women with vision and leadership skills that are passionate and able to have a positive impact on the advancement of women.
Diane von Furstenberg lives and breathes women's empowerment. Her wrap dress was so much more than a hugely successful piece of clothing; it symbolized the ability for women to embrace their femininity while simultaneously being regarded as the professional figures they worked so hard to be. She is a modern feminist that believes in women helping women, and I can't think of anyone who could do the job better.