Journey of a Dress | DVF turns 40
Diane von Furstenberg likes to joke that she cannot separate herself from her iconic wrap dress that made her famous: the long sheet of brightly patterned silk jersey fabric that wraps around a woman’s body, cinching around the waist to give her the illusion of an hourglass figure. This year DVF are celebrating 40 years of the frock that epitomizes the designer’s fearless, fresh, feminine and feminist.
When it arrived on the scene in 1972, it signaled the New Woman—the then-revolutionary concept of competing in a man’s world while looking totally feminine—and within a couple of years it had landed its creator, Diane von Furstenberg, on the cover of Newsweek.
“The wrap dress is the one thing that I owe everything to,” the fashion designer said as part of a press preview for the celebratory exhibit ‘Journey of a Dress’ in L.A. “She paid for all my bills and as a matter of fact, in French, we call the wrap dress ‘portefeuille,’ which means wallet … but sometimes I ever resented the wrap dress because whenever my name is there, it’s always ‘Diane von Furstenberg, the wrap dress’ and I always say ‘but I do other things too.’”
What is extraordinary is the dress’s timelessness. Comparing the vintage pieces and the new creations, Diane sometimes has trouble distinguishing the dresses, “The thing that’s so wild is that you can barely tell!” she explains. During an in-store appearance in Miami two months ago, Diane met a client who was wearing an important 40-year-old python-print dress that her staff hadn’t been able to track down. They borrowed it back from the customer, and it is now in the showing in the exhibition, looking as modern as it did back in the day. “Look how relevant it is with the little flared skirt!” Diane enthuses.
When Diane shot her first ad for Women’s Wear Daily, she was her own model, dressed in the iconic wrap and sitting on a white cube. In the resulting black-and-white image, the cube read too white so Diane wrote on it in blue pen, Feel like a woman, wear a dress!, and a potent slogan was born.
The former Vogue Editor in Chief Diana Vreeland wrote a letter that started it all. Diane remembers that everyone she showed her first capsule collection to was dismissive of it as a princess’s whim, but Vreeland was the only one who absolutely got it. “This is great! I think your clothes are absolutely smashing,” wrote Vreeland in that letter. Soon, a floor-length wrap dress in an Erté–inspired Deco print was shot for a two-page spread in Vogue and Diane von Furstenberg was launched.
The DVF look is one of the most clearly defined—and therefore recognizable—anywhere in the shopping world. The designer herself projects an elegance and sureness of vision that make her, still, the best image with which to market her own brand.The new DVF collection is in store now. We’re loving the sandscape prints from the Oasis themed collection.