FI­NAL SAY

So­ci­ety maven SUZANNE ROGERS catches up with fash­ion icon DIANE VON FURSTEN­BERG as she em­barks on the next chap­ter of her sto­ried ca­reer.

S/ - - CONTENTS - BY SUZANNE ROGERS

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

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