Diane von Furstenberg is truly a household name. But how did she do it? Now, she is a fashion designer best known for her runway iconic wrap dresses, but before she was a princess (yes, literally), wife, mother, and aspiring designer. She began designing clothes in 1970 and re-launched her line in 1997. Her products are now available in stores around the world, including 45 freestanding shops.
Diane (also known as DVF) was awarded a lifetime achievement award in 2005 and the following year the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named her their president. We are truly inspired by Diane’s story to success and we are sharing how she did it with CGS members!
Where it started
Born in Brussels Belgium to a Romanian father and Greek mother, both of Diane’s parents were Jewish. In fact, her mother was a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Diane went to school in Madrid, Geneva and Paris. While in Paris, Diane worked as a photographer’s agent assistant. Shortly after she moved to Italy and began working for Angelo Ferretti in a textile manufacture factory. Here is where Diane learned about the different fabrics and textures commonly seen in the fashion industry.
She learned how to cut and color textiles, ultimately producing her first ever silk jersey dress. In 1970, Diane made a $30,000 investment into her career to start a fashion line. “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.” She was not satisfied being a housewife. Diane was determined to make something of herself.
Diane eventually moved to New York and got her name listed on the calendar for New York Fashion Week. Diane became best known for introducing the knitted jersey wrap dress in 1974. Her designs sky rocketed and landed her on the cover of Newsweek Magazine in 1976. Her fashion career boomed and fashion industries have declared her “the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel”. Since then, Diane has also launched cosmetic lines, fragrances and a number of other businesses including home shopping and a language publishing house in France.
Since the re-launch of DVF in 1997, her infamous wrap dresses have caught the attention of younger generations. Many celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Tina Brown, Jessica Alba, Duchess of Cambridge, Gwyneth Paltrow and many more have worn her clothes. In 2008 Diane even received a star on the Fashion Walk of Fame.
More importantly, Diane has proved herself as a philanthropist. In 2014 she became a spokesperson for the Ban Bossy campaign to promote leadership among young women. She is the director of The Diller, which is a foundation providing support to non-profit organizations within the arts, community building, education, human rights, and health and environment sectors.
Diane’s net worth is around 1.2 billion dollars, and credits her for much of her success. She said, “Fear is not an option” and clearly fear has not stopped Diane from accomplishing her dreams. Never give up on something that encourages you to be better. Diane vowed to be more than a man’s wife and she used that to fuel herself to success! What do you think of Diane’s story? Are you a fan of her clothing and fragrance lines? Share what you think about Diane by leaving a comment below.