Diane von Furstenberg: Stay true to your brand

Young Diane von Furstenberg didn’t know what she wanted to do, but she knew what she wanted to be. In the large scope of things, she wanted to be driving the bus, she wanted to be in charge of her life. Her mother always told her to be independent, and young Diane took that to heart. Working at a European fashion mill that was producing scarves for major Italian labels, Diane began to have her first inkling of where her future may lie. For someone less determined of her generation, life as a career woman may have been cut short upon discovering that she was pregnant. But not Diane. She married the young prince she was dating at the time, and journeyed over to America where he was studying. But not before producing a few samples at the mill where she had been working, to take with her.

And so started the long trajectory of DvF’s career, from scarves to tops to the famous wrap dress, now an iconic staple of capital “F” Fashion’s repertoire. In fact, that eponymous dress celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and is truly the first dress that has weathered for decades Fashion’s fickle tendencies. Diane created something magical with that dress; a dress that weighed virtually nothing, that you could crush into a ball and pack easily, that would unfurl and still look sexy on you the next day. “Sexy, but always appropriate,” as von Furstenberg would say.

DvF was only 22 when she started her label, and was 28 when it reached its pinnacle of success. She admits to making a lot of mistakes along the way, which explains why she claims to have had three different careers, all centering around that one piece of magical jersey. The DvF brand, after all, was and still is like a child to her, and even when times get tough, and licensing deals do not work out, or people tell you your sense of style is no longer “au courante”, you don’t just abandon your kin. You get to know it again. You re-invigorate it. You carve your essence deeper into its DNA. You surround yourself with the younger generation, and see how they wear your dress, see how it still remains a “go-to” item in their closet, even when they’re feeling beat up and bloated. You remember that your brand stands for empowering women, for making dressing effortless, sexy and easy “on-the-go.” You bear down and work hard.

Oh—and you ditch the prince and marry your soul mate after years and years of knowing him, but that’s another story entirely.