Having launched her eponymous label in 1970, Diane von Furstenberg cemented her status with her iconic wrap dress in 1974. Having achieved sales of over one million units less than two years after its inception, the dress became the defining power symbol for an influential generation of women and currently boasts a permanent position in an exhibition of dresses held in the Smithsonian Museum.
Ms Von Furstenberg has been awarded several industry accolades such as the American Accessories Council’s Excellence Award and a Gold Medal at the annual Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala.
In 2005, following a lifetime achievement award presented by the CFDA, von Furstenberg was elected as president of the influential council. The designer has since overseen influential projects including including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and the CFDA Fashion Incubator and has played a pivotal role in forming the Design Piracy Prohibition Act.
An economics alumnus of the University of Geneva, von Furstenberg’s early career saw the designer work in Paris as assistant to Albert Koski and later in Italy as an apprentice to textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti, where she first began designing. In 1969, von Furstenberg moved to New York, where, along with being a regular at Warhol’s Studio 54, the native Belgian produced her own line of jersey dresses.
A friendship with Vogue editor Diana Vreeland provided the impetus for von Furstenberg to showcase her designs to an audience and, in 1970, the budding entrepreneur presented her first collection at the Gotham Hotel in New York City. Following the label’s early success, von Furstenberg added to her portfolio with a series of cosmetics and fragrance lines. The rapid succession of orders continued and by the late ‘70s von Furstenberg had sold her dress design license to Puritan Fashions Corporation and in 1983 sold the cosmetics line to Beecham Pharmaceuticals, effectively ending her control over the DVF company name.
In 1997, following a tenure in Paris founding a publishing company, acting as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and entering into a creative partnership with TV sales channel QVC, von Furstenberg reacquired the licences and re-ignited interest in her brand and iconic wrap dress.
An active philanthropist, von Furstenberg sits on the board of Vital Voices, an organisation that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs, and also serves as a Director of The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, through which the designer has donated to several important causes.
Von Furstenberg has published a series of books throughout her career including the Book of Beauty: How to Become a More Attractive, Confident, and Sensual Woman in 1977, the Bed, Bath and Table series and Diane: A Signature Life. The designer was also the subject of a travelling exhibition curated by André Leon Talley entitled ‘The Journey of a Dress’.