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A deeper look at style icon Diane von Furstenberg

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Legendary. Iconic. Transformative. Humble. These four words are strong, yet rarely are the first three accompanied by the fourth. Diane von Furstenberg is the exception.

A monogram and a brand name, DVF, was founded by Diane von Furstenberg in 1972 when she designed her first dress, according to DVF.com. She came to New York City in 1970 with a dream and a chance— creating dresses in the factory of her friend Angela Ferretti until she was encouraged by then Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. She is known around the world for many things, but most notably for her iconic wrap dress and bright prints that have inspired many designers and brands since its debut in 1974.

In an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow for Goop.com, von Furstenberg said, “I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted to be an independent woman and to have a career.” At her very core, DVF encompasses everything it means to be a strong, driven and humbly talented woman.

Von Furstenberg received the CFDA Lifetime Achievement award in 2005 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for her impact on fashion, according to DVF.com. In 2006 she was elected president of the CFDA and she continues to hold the position. According to the CFDA website, Diane has “dedicated herself to fostering emerging talent and helping to establish the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, which protects designers from counterfeit reproductions of their work.”

That is just one of von Furstenberg’s many dedications to empower women. According to the CDFA website, she created the DVF Awards along with the Diller-von-Furstenberg Foundation to “honor and provide grants to women who have displayed leadership, strength and courage in their commitment to their causes,” in an industry that oftentimes pits woman against woman.

While her accomplishments are numerous, there are many reasons why DVF is such a fashion icon. She designs for— really for— women; all of her garments have some sense of easiness to them because she believes that though luxurious, fashion should be accessible and wearable. It is clear she truly understands how women want to feel and what looks good on a woman’s body.

Her iconic wrap dress is, to this day, regularly copied by designers from the most high-end brands to middle-of-the-road price ranges like Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and J. Crew to the universally-accessible clothing lines at Walmart, Target and JCPenny. It is incredibly difficult to look bad in it because the jersey fabric, tie-at-the-waist and v-neck dress flatters every figure. No, it is not like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress,” but the cut of the fabric allows the jersey to fall naturally and in doing so, the dress accentuates the positives and camouflages the not-so-positive assets all women like to hide or disguise. Her prints and color choices are bold and evocative, but because they are not busy or fussy, her clothing lasts a lifetime.

In my eyes, DVF is an icon because she encompasses everything it means to be a successful woman. She has it all, but she makes it look easy. On top of this success, DVF has been able sustain a happy family. She is married to Barry Diller with whom she has two children, Alexander and Tatiana, and four grandchildren, according to DVF.com. Her brand now has four full collections and accessories and in 2011, she introduced a home line complete with bedding, rugs and tabletop items. Her empire is headquartered in New York City, is sold in 70 countries worldwide and has 45 freestanding stores across the country.

Watching her runway show makes me smile from ear to ear because, even in darker colors and heavier fabrics, the mood is light, flirty, feminine and blissfully fun. They are clothes you want to wear and they are clothes that will get you noticed for all the right reasons.

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