Diane von Fürstenberg
|Diane von Furstenberg|
Diane von Furstenberg in September 2009
|Born||Diane Simone Michelle Halfin
31 December 1946
|Spouse(s)||Egon von Fürstenberg (1969–72)
Barry Diller (2001–present)
Diane von Furstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg (German: Diane Prinzessin zu Fürstenberg, born 31 December 1946) is a Belgian-born American fashion designer best known for her iconic wrap dress. She initially rose to prominence when she married into the German princely House of Fürstenberg, as the wife of Prince Egon of Fürstenberg. Following their divorce in 1972, she has continued to use his family name, although she is no longer entitled to use the title princess following her divorce and subsequent remarriage in 2001.
She re-launched her fashion company, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF), in 1997, with the reintroduction of her famous wrap dress. The company is now a global luxury lifestyle brand offering four complete collections a year. DVF is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. The company’s headquarters and flagship boutique are located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year named her as their president, a position she has held since 2006. As of 2014, she is listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, and her company has 85 stores worldwide. In 2015, Time Magazine named her to the Time 100, as an Icon.
Diane Simone Michelle Halfin was born in Brussels, Belgium, to Jewish parents. Her father was Romanian-born Leon (Lipa) Halfin, who had migrated to Belgium in 1929 from Chişinău (then in Bessarabia, a province of Romania, and now the capital of Moldova). Her mother was Greek-born Liliane Nahmias, a Holocaust survivor. Just eighteen months before Fürstenberg was born, her mother was in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Furstenberg has spoken broadly about her mother’s influence in her life, crediting her with teaching her that “Fear is not an option.” Furstenberg later studied economics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She then moved to Paris and worked as an assistant to fashion photographer’s agent, Albert Koski. She left Paris for Italy to work as an apprentice to the textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti in his factory, where she learned about cut, color and fabric. It was here that she designed and produced her first silk jersey dresses.
Career and brand
In 1970, with a $30,000 investment, Diane von Furstenberg 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." Her former husband also became a fashion designer in 1974. After moving to New York, she met with famed Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, who declared her designs "absolutely smashing." She then had her name listed on the Fashion Calendar for New York Fashion Week, and so her business was created.
She is best known for introducing the knitted jersey "wrap dress" in 1974, an example of which, due to its influence on women's fashion, is in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After the phenomenal success of the wrap dress, Furstenberg was featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1976. The cover was intended to show Gerald Ford, who had just won his first Republican Presidential Primary, but was changed at the last minute. The accompanying article declared her "the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel."
In 1974, Furstenberg launched a cosmetic line and her first fragrance, Tatiana, which was named after her daughter.
In 1985, she moved to Paris, France where she founded Salvy, a French-language publishing house. Furstenberg started a number of other businesses including a line of cosmetics and a home-shopping business, which she launched in 1991.
Furstenberg re-launched her company in 1997, and re-introduced the wrap dress, which gained traction with an entirely new generation of women.
In 1998, she published her business memoir, Diane: A Signature Life.
In 2004, she introduced the DVF by H. Stern fine jewelry collection, and launched scarves and beachwear.
In 2006, she was elected as President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a position she still holds today.
In 2008, she received a star on Seventh Avenue's Fashion Walk of Fame.
In 2009, Michelle Obama wore the DVF signature Chain Link print wrap dress on The Official White House Christmas Card. That same year, a large-scale retrospective exhibition entitled "Diane von Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress" opened at the Manezh, one of Moscow's largest public exhibition spaces. The show was curated by Andre Leon Talley and attracted a lot of media attention. In 2010, the exhibition traveled to São Paulo, and in 2011, to the Pace Gallery in Beijing.
In 2010, von Furstenberg was awarded a Gold Medal at the annual Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala.
In 2011, DVF introduced a home collection as well as a signature fragrance, DIANE.
In 2014, Michael Herz became artistic director of DVF.
A new book of memoirs is planned to be published in November 2014.
Furstenberg is a director of The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, a private foundation that provides philanthropic support to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations within the following sectors: Community Building, Education, Human Rights, Arts, Health and the Environment.
In 2010, Furstenberg created the DVF Awards, which are presented annually to four women who display leadership, strength, and courage in their commitment to women’s causes. Supported by The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, recipients are each granted $50,000 to further their work.
In 2011, The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation made a $20 million commitment to the High Line, which is the largest single private contribution to a public park in New York City’s history. The Diller – von Furstenberg family has donated a total of $35 million to the High Line to date.
Furstenberg sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women’s leadership organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world. She is also an honorary director of the Housatonic Valley Association.
Furstenberg is referred to in Dolly Parton's 1981 song "Working Girl". In 2014, Ovation TV featured the The Fashion Fund, a documentary about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition. Furstenberg starred alongside Anna Wintour in the program.
Furstenberg and her famed invention of the iconic wrap dress are referenced in Season 3, episode 11, of the popular American TV series American Horror Story: Coven (episode aired on January 15, 2014, and was entitled Protect the Coven). The reference to Furstenberg is made by the character Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), a witch with a penchant for haute couture. Miss Snow passionately refers to the invention of the wrap dress as "the greatest invention of the century" and cogitates that Furstenberg's marriage to Egon von Fürstenberg provided the support that allowed her early career as a designer to flourish.
In 2014, the E! network aired the first season of reality show House of DVF. Contestants on the show performed various tasks and challenges in the hopes of becoming a global brand ambassador for Diane von Furstenberg. On the December season finale, Diane chose finalist Brittany Hampton as the winner. According to E!, the show will return for a second season.
As of 2014, she is listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
At university, when she was 18, she met Prince Egon of Fürstenberg, the elder son of a German prince and his first wife, an heiress to the Fiat automotive fortune and member of the Italian nobility. Married in 1969, the couple had two children, Prince Alexander, and Princess Tatiana, who were born in New York City. She is now the grandmother of four. The Fürstenbergs' marriage, though not popular with the groom's family because of the bride's Jewish ethnicity, was considered dynastic, and on her marriage she became Her Serene Highness Princess Diane of Fürstenberg, but is no longer entitled to the title following her divorce and her 2001 remarriage.
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