That's a Wrap


Once upon a Wednesday, I was riding the elevator in the mathematics building on campus, wedged in like a sardine among other students and a few professors, one of whom had quite the chip on his shoulder. He mentioned how prestigious universities like MIT and Harvard are implementing distance education options into their curriculum in hopes to provide an opportunity for those less fortunate to receive higher learning educations. By the tenth floor stop, this sparked his fume into an entire rant on how all "kids these days" want is the cheapest route that grants them the most success.

The point he made as he exited, however, was what stuck with me most: how nobody acknowledges the free education right in front of them in the form of simply opening a book (and reading it!) and the infinite amount of information on the world wide web. Essentially, students are lazy and require far too much discipline in his eyes. While there is a degree (or two) of truth to his argument, there's no denying that a valid college education is necessary in our generation. But, I'm going to take a bit of his advice and  utilize this eavesdropping moment by rewarding myself my very own education in fashion. And there's no better place to start than a crash course in the history of various iconic designers.

Our first case study? Diane Von Furstenburg. While shopping recently, I realized how automatically drawn I am to all of her pieces. She isn't afraid of bold patterns and keeps true to a woman's classic silhouette, stated eloquently with her mantra: "Feel like a woman. Wear a dress."

She's best known for her iconic wrap dress, which she has made in a slew of colors and patterns over the years, as this piece alone has launched DVF into a household name in fashion.
"Once upon a time, there was a princess with an idea. The idea was a dress. Not a taffeta ball gown like the ones fairy-tale heroines usually wear--this was a drip-dry, cotton jersey dress that wrapped in front and tied at the waist....And even though the princess was a member of the jet set, famous far and wide as a glamorous party girl, her dress was seen as evidence of an uncanny knack for identifying with her customers: they felt that she must have understood them to have invented something so comfortable and practical, so suitable to their own everyday adventures and to their newfound sense of independence." 
Harry Brauchbach of The New York Times

Diane claims it was more than a dress, it was "a spirit." Five million wrap dresses later, and she became an icon of female liberation and a celebrity of her own right dating the likes of Richard Gere and frequenting hot spots like Studio 54.

However, the initial boom of the knit dress felt merely like Diane's fifteen minutes of fame, as her success was sudden and temporary. Despite her initial success's brevity, the comfort and ease of the piece had women pulling them off the racks at vintage shops, and suddenly her career was re-established. And this time, she was here to stay.

Since then, she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (which she is now president of), designed a luxury hotel {the Claridge}, and launched an awards ceremony honoring women whose visions have had a positive impact on women around the world.


I'm particularly fond of her desire for independence. I read that, financially, it was not necessary for her to start a career of her own, yet her passion and drive led her to designing clothes in the early 70s and the rest is DVF history. Her style is straightforward with no surprises yet she manages to still be innovative with her designs in a culture that is always craving the next best thing. Her designs cater to all ages and I find that they have the ability to make older women feel youthful and the younger folk feel mature and sophisticated. So, here's to someone with a vision who has made women comfortable and cute across the country for over thirty years now.


dervla @ The Curator said...

This is such an interesting piece, Molly! Diane is such an inspiration and her clothes really do flatter the female shape. Great post!

Jessica said...

Great post! Diane is such an inspirational woman and a true fashion icon!