Free Spirit

S/ - - NEWS - KRIS­TEN VINAKMENS Ed­i­tor-in-Chief smaged­i­tor@con­tem­po­me­

“Fear is not an op­tion.”

That line stuck with me as I lis­tened to the iconic Bel­gian-Amer­i­can de­signer Diane von Fursten­berg—who was in Toronto re­cently for a fash­ion fundraiser pre­sented by S/ columnist, Suzanne Rogers—speak about her ex­tra­or­di­nary life. The line, ini­tially de­liv­ered by von Fursten­berg’s mother Lily (a con­cen­tra­tion camp sur­vivor), was in­stilled in Diane from an early age. If there were ever a woman who em­bod­ies be­ing fear­less, it would be von Fursten­berg, who, in a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try, launched her own fash­ion line and her sig­na­ture wrap dress in 1974. With its un­der­stated glam­our and ease of move­ment, the wrap dress sym­bol­ized free­dom and in­de­pen­dence for the mod­ern work­ing woman. Though she’s no longer at the cre­ative helm of the la­bel, DVF has be­come one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful fash­ion brands. To­day, von Fursten­berg is an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for em­pow­er­ing women through phi­lan­thropy, and strives to cel­e­brate free­dom, in­de­pen­dence and a life well lived.

This fear­less­ness is shared by some of the world’s most suc­cess­ful and revo­lu­tion­ary de­sign­ers, from Chris­tian Dior in the 1940s to Gucci’s Alessan­dro Michele to­day. When fash­ion for women af­ter the war erred to­wards util­i­tar­ian, Dior went against the grain and ini­ti­ated a re­turn to glam­our, lux­ury and a fem­i­nine ideal through the cre­ation of his “New Look” in 1947, which changed the course of fash­ion his­tory. As the house of Dior turns 70 this year, we ex­am­ine the de­signer’s legacy and those who have suc­ceeded him, in­clud­ing cur­rent de­signer Maria Grazia Chi­uri (the first fe­male de­signer to take the cre­ative helm at the house), in “Rev­o­lu­tion Road.”

Gucci’s Michele has staged his own fash­ion rev­o­lu­tion by in­sti­gat­ing a re­turn to a more de­mure, cov­ered-up aes­thetic. Some might say the look is “anti-sexy”, but as writer Nancy Won ex­am­ines in “Kinky Boots,” the move­ment has spurred a more thought­ful, at times play­ful and even fetishis­tic way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing sex ap­peal that is rooted in free­dom and self-ex­pres­sion.

What­ever you wear—whether it’s thigh-high span­dex boots un­der­neath an of­fice-ready skirt suit or a skin-bar­ing, body-con mini dress—should in­still con­fi­dence, and at the end of the day, that’s sexy, and fear­less.

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