Diane von Furstenberg founded her eponymous line in 1972. Since then it has become a global luxury fashion brand celebrated for its bold and creative approach to color and print, and admired for its sensual femininity. Renowned for its iconic wrap dress and signature prints, DVF now offers a full collection of ready-to-wear dresses and accessories, and has established itself as a leader of feminine silhouettes in the fashion industry. As Founder and Chairman of DVF, Diane continues to devote much of her time to her many philanthropic endeavors. Recently, she released a new book, “Own It,” which is a culmination of the knowledge DVF gained throughout the course of her life as a fashion designer and founder of her global brand. In 2019, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, honoring women who have changed the course of history, and in March this year, she launched her InCharge podcast, a platform for empowering women. On Tuesday, March 23rd, I joined Her Campus Media founder Windsor Hanger Western, and Diane von Furstenberg for an exclusive press conference filled with inspiration, amazing conversation, and Q&A.
Growing up, when asked what she wanted to do, Diane didn’t have a response, however, she knew the kind of woman she wanted to be—in charge, independent, and with “a man’s life in a woman’s body.” Early in her life, she came to be just that due to her wrap dress which became a symbol of power and independence. Her muse, the people she wanted to dress were women who possess the qualities she had once dreamed of having. Her definition of being in charge? Diane states, “It’s absolutely not an aggressive statement. What it is to be ‘in charge’ is it’s a commitment to ourselves, owning who we are, owning our imperfections. When we own our vulnerability, it becomes our strength.”
Although the dress has opened many doors, she emphasized that her career had not always been an upward trend of success. She reminded us that there are times when you are knocked down, fail, and may find yourself starting over. Rising above and owning your failure is the most important thing one can do. Similarly, criticism also has an important role. If you only ever condition yourself to receive positive feedback, you will never grow and become better. Our mistakes and failures are simply stepping stones in our paths. With this in mind, Diane later stated, “I made the wrap dress but the wrap dress made me.”
The InCharge movement is still in its beginning phase, but it has become much more well known due to Diane’s new book. People seek out the book not only for its beautiful design but also its perspective. When writing “Own It,” she realized all of her ideas about what it is to be in charge, came down to doing just that, owning it. Diane didn’t want to write the book as prose, so the purpose of the A-Z dictionary format of the book is so that we may find what word speaks to us, to be uplifting, and to remind us that the secret to everything is within us; the key to our success and the key to being true to ourselves. In the midst of writing it, COVID-19 began to happen, adding another entire dimension. “Everyone became a lot more reflective, a lot deeper, and things became more meaningful than ever.” She claims the book however is not a manifesto to vulnerability but a manifesto to being authentic. Across careers, women in leadership positions refrain from being vulnerable in order to gain respect, a concept that Daine relates to. She stated that she would not even smile to gain respect but now understands vulnerability is appealing. Allowing others to see your mistakes and challenges as opposed to allowing them to see only the results is inspiring.
Motivation is a driving factor for these actions, willingness, and goals therefore maintaining it seems otherwise essential. However, much to our surprise, Diane admitted that even she wakes up someday and feels “like a loser.” On these days, Diane looks in the mirror and says to herself, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” What truly moves her is life and irreplaceable valuables such as family and creation. As she gets older, she has become increasingly aware of the “magic wand” we all have, which refers to how if we pay attention to others and pay attention to details, we can change lives. Necessarily, we should strive to grant one miracle every day.
When Diane reflects on her youth, she remembers that as a child she did not want to be a girl, she wanted to be a sophisticated woman. The virtue of aging is that it’s proof that you have lived, and describes it as layers among layers of memories, souvenirs, experiences, colors, images, and love. It is something that needs to be embraced because you become better the more you gain. “I don’t call it aging, I call it living,” she states. Our purpose: to live our lives fully.
Today, Talita von Furstenberg, Diane’s granddaughter, continues to carry on Diane’s legacy in the fashion world. The fashion designer is currently pursuing a degree in fashion business at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, having transferred from Georgetown University where she studied international relations. Diane sees herself in Talita and affirms that DVF will be left in great hands. After all, strong women raise strong women.
Diane’s mission to ensure confidence in women everywhere and be a part of their journeys into empowerment speaks to her avid endorsement of women’s empowerment. Investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment can unlock human potential on a transformational scale. For societies to thrive, women and girls must have equal access to resources, must have control of their own autonomy, and must have equal opportunities as peace-builders and leaders. Transforming the ways in which we engage women and girls in gender equality and women’s empowerment efforts is essential to long-lasting social change. We must enlist support for the empowerment of women and girls across their lifespan, and also encourage them to challenge the negative cultural and social definitions that can limit their own ability to achieve their full potential. We must embrace the idea of the wrap dress and own it.
Special thank you to the Her Campus team for making this possible.
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”
Quotes from this article were extracted from the official press release for “Own It: The Secret to Life” with Diane von Furstenberg and Windsor Hanger Western on March 23, 2021. The author is not authorized to share the contents of the press release and attempts to ensure that the information on the website is complete and accurate.