Society maven SUZANNE ROGERS catches up with fashion icon DIANE VON FURSTENBERG as she embarks on the next chapter of her storied career.
I am a long-time admirer of Diane von Furstenberg.
How can you not revere and respect a woman who not only created the iconic wrap dress but also carved so bold a path through the male-dominated fashion industry? When I first met Diane at her landmark DVF Awards, I knew I had to persuade her to be honouree for the latest in my series of Suzanne Rogers Presents… fundraisers. I was delighted when she accepted, and even more thrilled to discover she shares my passion for bettering the lives of children worldwide. The event, held May 4 in Toronto, was a tremendous success, raising substantial funds for Covenant House’s “Just Like a Girl You Know” campaign and for War Child. While Diane was in town, we had a chance to chat about her remarkable career and where she’s headed next.
SR You have had an incredible career journey. What is your next chapter?
DVF Thank you. I always think about my career in three phases: In the beginning, I was a European princess and I came to America with a few dresses. I started a company that became this great success, and I call that The American Dream, because it really was. After that, there was a difficult period for the business, and I ended up leaving fashion and moving to Paris, only to return again in the late ’90s with the relaunch of the wrap dress, and I call that Comeback Kid. Now, I am in this third phase, which I think of as Legacy. It is really about continuing to build a company that will live on, and I have found an amazing leader in Jonathan Saunders. It is also about empowering women through fashion, philanthropy and mentorship. I am at a point where I have lived, had successes and failures; so I feel like I have some knowledge to share.
SR As a female entrepreneur, what was your biggest challenge?
DVF Because I was always my own boss, I never really experienced the glass ceiling. I always believed what my mother taught me, which is that being a woman is a privilege, and for me it really has been an asset. Now I feel we are in a different time, and it is so important for women to help each other, in their lives and their businesses. So I am enjoying meeting a lot of women and learning about the challenges they face. It is an exciting time to be a woman, but it is also important that we come together and make things happen.
SR Who, early on, were your role models? And what advice do you have for young women?
DVF Diana Vreeland was very helpful to me early in my career, and Halston was an inspiration, so I have always tried to empower young women to go for it and be the woman they want to be. The advice I like to give is that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. If you know who you are and stay true to that, that is the most important thing.
SR Is there anything you would do differently if you could do it again?
DVF No…I think regrets, and really any insecurities, are a waste of time. You learn from your mistakes, so the best thing is just to take responsibility for them and move on.
DIANE VON FUSTENBERG TODAY
DIANE AT WORK IN THE 1970S