Throughout the crowd, a sea of cell phones could be seen snapping pictures and shooting video of Diane von Furstenberg as she spoke with Stefano Tonchi, Editor-in-Chief of W Magazine and creator of T:The New York Times Style Magazine. This testifies to the enduring power of the one-and-only von Furstenberg as a role model in the design world.
As part of the Design Miami/’s Design Pioneers talks, this discussion moved between a range of subjects effortlessly and with a sense of grace. Tonchi and von Furstenberg discussed how she got started in fashion, the revolution that was the wrap dress, women’s empowerment, and the power of technology in design and collaboration.
When asked how she got started in fashion, von Furstenberg said, “I wanted to be an independent woman who could pay her bills. I used my common sense and my taste.” She described how she was introduced to the industry through working on the floor with other factory workers – those colorists and print-makers she described as “little Michelangelos.”
Tonchi and DvF shared anecdotes, funny and at times somber, about her life and brand being so important to women. Von Furstenberg repeatedly asserted the significance of being a confident woman, and how this has determined the course of her work in the world of fashion. Her iconic wrap dress presented women with the chance to dress functionally yet fashionably.
With new development in print technology in the late 1960s and 70s, women were able to dress with greater ease and could show off some skin in the process. She directly connected this to women’s empowerment and confidence, saying “When a woman feels like an animal, good things happen.”
They discussed the joy of traveling, which DvF regards as a blessing. “”I really live in a suitcase. I am an explorer. It doesn’t matter where I go, I just like to go. For me, travel is life.”
Tonchi asked von Furstenberg about whether she was satisfied with how far she had come. “I am the woman I wanted to be. It wasnt always easy. But you can design your life.”