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Vie Française | Interviews

Inspiring women: Diane von Fürstenburg – iconic fashion designer

Inspiring women: Collaborative partnership with MidetPlus.fr
MyFrenchLife™ - Inspiring women - header

“Effortless, sexy and on the go” is how Diane von Fürstenberg defines her style and vision. The New York fashion designer, who has recently celebrated her 69th birthday, conquered the fashion market throughout the 1970s with her famous little crease-free jersey wrap dress.

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A truly timeless classicdiane von furstenberg - inspiring women - profile - myfrenchlife.org - MyFrenchLife™

The iconic piece has been worn by so many women, famous or otherwise, and has been sold in the millions ever since its creation. Last year the dress was the focus of a large exhibition named ‘Journey of a Dress’ to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

I think I have had an influence on my era and on the lives of many women. I wanted to dress these women but above all give them self-confidence and be an ally to women when they are unsure what to wear on some mornings. This dress has simply become a symbol of liberation for so many generations of women.

Diane von Fürstenberg: an influential woman

Today Fürstenberg is still as relevant as ever: Time magazine recently classed her amongst the most influential women in the world. She is president of the powerful CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), wife of Prince Egon of Fürstenberg, mother of two children and a grandmother. Successful and wealthy at the age of 30, she has done so much for women and their empowerment. Today, above all, she seeks to spread her influence, particularly through the Diane von Fürstenburg Awards (presented by Hilary Clinton in 2015) and her foundation Vital Voices.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a job, but I always knew which woman I wanted to be. Success made by hard work, but also by knowing how to seize opportunities. The extraordinary advantage of success is being able to give a voice to those that don’t have one. I like mentoring and going to meet young girls or women who I hope to guide or inspire.

Like mother, like daughterDiane von Fürstenberg - Inspiring Women - Dress - MyFrenchLife™ - MyFrenchLife.org

Diane believes that her destiny was decided due to the fate of her mother who was exiled at the age of 20 to Auschwitz as part of the resistance. Miraculously she was a survivor of the concentration camp, but on her return she was told that she was too frail to have a child. The fashion designer maintains that her birth just a year later, despite all odds, explains who she is and what she has done: to live at all costs and be independent!

In my family, we don’t complain and we are certainly not victims. Just like my mother, I feel like I must turn the negatives into positives.

Ageing well

If her 30’s were the best years of her life, as she once said, her 40’s were certainly more difficult (she battled with cancer at 47). Her 50’s were better, but the fashion designer believes that she must now enjoy her 60’s, as she sees her later years as being less important.


From the woman who has resisted going under the knife, Diane von Fürstenberg gives us her secrets for successfully ageing well: you must eat lightly and healthily, and as much as possible resist the call of sugar; but all the while enjoy drinking a glass of red wine every day and eating dark chocolate. Going up and down stairs several times a day; regular swimming; two sessions of yoga every week; facial skincare and a weekly massage is all it takes.Diane von Fürstenberg - Inspiring Women - Diane - MyFrenchLife™ - MyFrenchLife.org

In order to accept getting older, you must love your past, and have no regrets. The most important thing in my eyes is caring for your health and your reputation. I think that the secret to youth is also working and surrounding yourself by young people. At my age, you can’t seduce someone in the same way. When we grow older, we become physically invisible. So you have to be somebody if you want to continue attracting the attention of others.

If you want to find out more about Diane von Fürstenberg, you can read her autobiography ‘The Woman I wanted to be’.


Do you own a wrap dress? Which female fashion icons are you inspired by? Let us know in the comments below.


Inspiring women: collaboration with MidetPlus.fr

[This article was originally written in French by Author: Marie-Hélène Cossé]

Here at MyFrenchLife™ we have pleasure in announcing our partnership with French site MidetPlus.fr to produce this new series: ‘Inspiring women’. This article first appeared on MidetPlus.fr and we have translated it into English for your added pleasure.

Mid&Plus takes a decidedly positive view of women in the world and produces wonderful portraits of inspiring women. This collaboration enables you to read this series of inspiring life stories in French and in English here on MyFrenchLife™ – MaVieFrançaise® magazine and also to visit midetplus.fr for further inspiration. We hope that you enjoy it.

Marie-Hélène Cossé – founder of MidetPlus
Claire Basler – artist
Zahia Ziouani – conductor
Alix Baboin-Jaubert – pilgrim
Tina Kieffer – journalist
Hannelore Cayre  author+
Virginie Taittinger – femme champenoise
Zeina Egho – a face of exile
Virginie Taittinger – femme champenoise
Zeina Egho – a face of exile
Catherine Soulas-Baron – savoir vivre
Veronique Mirieu de Labarre – accessories & talent scout


All images courtesy of midetplus.fr
Translated by Katie Wilkinson



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  1. marcia straus
    6 months ago

    I’m old enough to have worn an original DVF wrap dress way back in the ’70’s! And I’ve always admired her. She truly is an inspiration


    • Judy MacMahon
      6 months ago

      Bonjour Marcia 🙂
      I too fondly remember the first ‘wrap dresses’ of DVF <3
      Judy


      • kirsten (kt) trengove
        6 months ago

        I really enjoy that these articles are available bilingually. Merci beaucoup!


        • Judy MacMahon
          5 months ago

          Thanks Kirsten 🙂
          Glad the abiltity to read in French (and English) works for you.