Diane von Fürstenberg | THE DESIGNER OF THE ICONIC WRAP DRESS | FULL BIOGRAPHY - Fashion Worldwide

Diane von Fürstenberg is one of the world’s most successful fashion designers. The fashion designer was born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin on December 31, 1946, in Brussels, Belgium. Von Fürstenberg impressed the fashion world when she introduced her now-iconic “wrap dress” for the working woman in 1972. 

She had an interesting birth story. Diane had a Romanian-origin father (Leon Halfin) who moved to Belgium where she was born on 31st December 1946. He worked as an electronics executive, while her Greek-born mother (Liliane Nahmias), was a Holocaust survivor. Being a Nazi concentration camp survivor, the mother strongly inspired her.

Von Fürstenberg attended finishing schools in Switzerland, Spain, and England, and in 1965 entered the University of Madrid. In 1966, she transferred to the University of Geneva. After graduating, she went to Paris and assisted Albert Koski, who was an agent to fashion photographers.


She descovered her calling for fashion designing when she moved to Italy for an an internship at Angelo Ferretti’s textile factory. During this time that she developed a bond with the materials, cuts and colors. This was also where she created her very first outfits using Ferretti’s silk jersey fabric.


She met her first husband, Prince Egon zu Fürstenberg, the German elder son, the heir of the Fiat fortune. They married and moved to New York. They had 2 children – a son (Prince Alexandre von Furstenberg) and a daughter (Princess Tatiana von Furstenberg).


She began designing clothes. Although she was established financially, she has stated that she wanted independence.

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 herdesserts“, she told the New York Times.

The fashion designer showed her first collection at the Gotham Hotel (New York).

Photo Source: Pinterest


She established her own manufacturing business. Her friend and entrepreneur Richard Conrad, and with a $30,000 loan from her father, von Fürstenberg opened a Seventh Avenue showroom. Although her designs were variations on items in her initial collection, she produced a new, very popular sweater dress named “Angela,” after the black activist Angela Davis. The next big thing was von Fürstenberg’s popular wrap dress.

“I had a very down-to-earth product, my wrap dress, which wasreally a uniform. It was just a simple little cotton-jersey dress that everybody loved and everybody wore”, she told New York Magazine.

Photo Source: Pinterest


She launched a cosmetic line and a perfume named ‘Tatiana’, a namesake of her daughter.

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Until 1976, she sold 5 million wrap dresses and landed covers of Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.


Despite such huge career success, von Fürstenberg’s personal life was crumbling. She got divorced in 1983. Fleeing bankruptcy, she moved to Europe and founded Salvy, a French-language publishing house.


She moved back to the US and settled on a farm in Connecticut.


For the next several years, von Fürstenberg published a series of books. First was a trio of coffee table books that exposed the interior lives of the rich and famous.  The book “Beds” (1991) displayed the bedrooms of celebrities and royalty.


The book “The Bath” offered a brief history of bathing and its many splendid rooms.


The book “The Table” highlighted the delights of entertaining and dining.


She reopened her business and brought back her signature wrap dresses.

Photo Source: Pinterest


She published her own life in her autobiography “DIANE: A Signature Life– a compelling look at her personal and professional life.

“Because I think women are all the same. And I think that women are wonderful, strong, and beautiful, and if you get two women in the room, they’re gonna start winking at each other.”


She married media tycoon Barry Diller. They started the “Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation” to support non-profit organization.


The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her a lifetime achievement award.


She was named as CFDA president.

“I want to really work on all the benefits this membership gives. The most important thing – and I would like this to be my legacy – is to really create an incredible network service system. I would like to go to the mayor and see what he can do for us. Our mayor appreciates that the fashion business is a huge business, and I would like to see what we can do together. We will have to talk about the endowment, and overall, create more of a brand for the CFDA, which is something I know how to do.”


The Seventh Avenue Fashion Walk of Fame honored her with a star. During the event, she said that her inspiration was her mother.

“She was extraordinary. She survived thecamps at the age of 22, she taught me only to look at positivethings no matter what happens. When she talked about the camps, shetalked about the camaraderie. I think she was trying to protect me.She only weighed 49lb when she came out, but I was born 18 monthslater. I was her victory.”


She launched the DVF Awards, a scheme which aims to recognise women whose leadership skills and vision have has a positive impact in society. Each honoree receives a $50,000 award from the Foundation to sustain and expand their extraordinary contributions.

“Women never cease to impress and inspire me. I am very happy to create these Awards to honour and reward their leadership and dedication to the advancement of women.”

The London Hotel Claridge’s initiated a collaboration with the fashion designer which wanted her design for their legendary hotel rooms and suites. The partnership was a long lasting relationship.

“To me, Claridge’s is the most glamourous hotel in the world. I regard it as my home away from home. I am honoured to become part of the hotel’s legacy and rich design history.”

During that same year, in August, she promised to give away half of her fortune to the Giving Pledge – an initiative set up by Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett to encourage America’s richest families to donate money to society’s most serious problems.


She launched a diffusion collection named “Diane”, also named “the core of DVF”. She also received the Award of Courage for her enduring efforts in combating AIDS by charity amfAR. Other winners have included Bill Clinton and Elisabeth Taylor.

In April, she received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal from the Municipal Art Society of New York, in recognition of her “outstanding contribution to the built environment of New York City”. She helped to redevelop the Meatpacking District, also supported the city’s High Line Park (a public space built on an elevated derelict railway track).


She introduced a clothing line for children with “Gap Kids”.

“The minute a little girl is born, she is already the woman she will be. So to empower a little girl is to empower the woman she will become.”


The designer released another memoir, the book named “The Woman I Wanted to Be. In the same idea, The Reality TV show House of DVF was launched on E! – a group of young women competing to become von Fürstenberg’s brand ambassador.

Photo Source: Heavy.com

Photo Source: Pinterest

von Fürstenberg’s “wrap dress” had revolutionized American women’s apparel. It was versatile – as a comfortable business dress and as an elegant evening gown. The wrap dress was an truly cultural phenomenon who lasted 30 years. It’s like a kimono, without buttons and without a zipper.

Furstenberg became a powerful fashion icon in the ’70s by acknowledging the needs of a growing number of career-minded women.

Adding further dimension to her portfolio, she also introduced home decor, designer luggage and eyewear under the DVF brand name.

©2017 Fashion Worldwide


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