A sweeping biography of one of the most influential and controversial legends of New York fashion—the iconic designer whose creations captured the modern feminist spirit
In 1969, when women's liberation and equal rights were on everyone's lips, twenty-two-year-old Diane von Furstenberg set out to have a career of her own. The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Diane grew up a frizzy-haired, gap-toothed outsider in Brussels. Improbably, she became the wife of Austrian nobleman Egon von Furstenberg, moved to New York City, and quickly made herself a fixture of an outrageous fashion scene. Pregnant and lugging a suitcase of samples to department stores, Diane started a dress business with three styles—and in 1973, stormed onto the national stage with the invention of the wrap dress.
Embraced for its flattering style by millions of American women of all ages, sizes, and shapes, the dress became a cult object, tied inexorably to the image Diane projected of youth, independence, and sex—"the DVF woman," a model of self-sufficiency, sensuality, and confidence. In this masterful biography, Gioia Diliberto delves beyond that woman to bring Diane's extraordinary life into focus, from her post–World War II childhood in Belgium, through her rise to the top of the fashion world during the decadent seventies and glamorous go-go eighties, to her humiliating failures both professional and personal, and her remarkable comeback in the nineties.
Drawing on interviews with Diane's family, friends, lovers, employees, and the designer herself, Diliberto creates a captivating portrait of von Furstenberg through her relationships and role in the development of a uniquely American style. As befits the story of a clothing designer who became a stunning pop cultural icon, the book also explores fashion's evolution from rare luxury to marketing monster, and the larger world of the nation's elite—an exclusive club where fashion, culture, society, politics, and Hollywood collide. Lively and insightful, Diane von Furstenberg is a modern fable of self-invention, fame, wealth, failure, and success, pulled together with the style and assuredness of a DVF dress.