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The BoF Podcast | Diane von Furstenberg on the Power of a Little Dress

Diane von Furstenberg looks back on her barrier-breaking career with longtime friend Deepak Chopra at BoF VOICES 2023.
The BoF Podcast | Diane von Furstenberg on the Power of a Little Dress
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Background:

Diane von Furstenberg has been synonymous with women’s empowerment since she first unveiled her revolutionary wrap dress in 1974. But for her, the garment became much more than a symbol, it became the key to her own independence.

“I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be,” von Furstenberg told author and spiritual wellness advocate Deepak Chopra, her friend of three decades, on stage at BoF VOICES 2023. “I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to be free. I mean freedom. I wanted to be my own person. And I wanted to have a man’s life in a woman’s body. And the way I became that woman was a little dress.”

This week on The BoF Podcast, von Furstenberg and Chopra look back on the designer’s journey from princess to fashion powerhouse, and share their collective wisdom on finding meaning in life.

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Key Insights:

  • Born in Belgium, von Furstenberg is the daughter of a Romanian father and Greek-born, Jewish mother who survived the Holocaust. “She taught me that fear was not an option,” von Furstenberg says of her mother. “That no matter what, you could never be a victim.”
  • Despite her decades-long career in fashion, it wasn’t until von Furstenberg received the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s lifetime achievement award in 2005 that she considered herself a designer. “Because I didn’t go to fashion school, I thought I wasn’t a designer,” she recalls. “But the one thing I know I am, I can design life … You’re not in charge of your destiny, but you can navigate your destiny.”
  • Von Furstenberg’s work with various causes and non-profits is as close to her heart as her namesake business. “I never really loved the word philanthropy because it sounds like landscaping. You feel like you need an expert, but it is about being human. And it is about paying attention to others.”

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