The entryway to Diane von Furstenberg Fall’s 2009 catwalk featured a portrait of the horizon at sunset. The captured image mirrored that of the show run awash with bright yellows and oranges just before sinking deeper into an intense blend of blues and purples. The collection titled “Nomad” conveyed in a sense that today’s woman “carries her home with her, so that wherever she goes geographically, from day to night, she has everything on her.” How appropriate that this trailblazing designer is always looking ahead, moving forward, and focused on the future. Another key message to the DVF customer for Fall 2009 was “wherever she goes, she belongs…” The legendary designer unveiled 40 new looks to a highly charged, revamped, remixed, rendition of “Careless Whisper” by The Gossip and the hilariously pop-culture lyric-laden “Uh-Huh” from Zooey Deschanel’s band Munchausen by Proxy.
Less than four years after taking the fashion world by storm, with her iconic wrap dress in 1972, Diane von Furstenberg went on to sell five million of the hallmark frocks and land an historic Newsweek cover on March 28, 1976 at the delicate age of 29. Back then, the Belgian designer had been touted as the “Princess of Fashion” and “the most marketable designer since Coco Chanel.” She has since been called the mother of reinvention, but the consistently pervasive truth at the core of the DVF brand, beneath the glamour is a sinewy instinct of a woman who possesses a sort of fashion Darwinism, if you will. Because what was even more impressive than that sales feat, was what the garment represented. In a time when equal rights, political protests, and the sexual revolution were at the forefront of our nation’s movement towards cultural activism, the wrap dress identified and filled a void in women’s fashion, symbolizing power and freedom. Ms. von Furstenberg continues to champion women’s causes in the 21st century as a board member of Vital Voices, an organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world. The fashion fortitude demonstrated with that one silhouette is about so much more than being a former princess or the designer maverick who experienced her first heyday and meteoric rise to stardom while hanging out with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54—it’s about becoming the woman she was always meant to be, a true survivor!
In this modern day of mass-produced, homogenized fast-fashion, it’s easy to lose focus and for your inner voice to be drowned out by the trends dictating a here-this minute-gone-in-sixty-seconds instantaneous sartorial rhetoric. It’s that 80’s power imagery of having the newest, the fastest, or the shiniest without stopping to ask yourself do I really need all this excess? Wouldn’t it be better to have something lasting?—A true investment. Remaining original, relevant, and distinctive is what makes the biggest impact. “Every piece should be special! Every piece should be a friend, open up your closet to friends…” said the prolific CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient backstage. An important message in these trying economic times: Maybe you don’t have much, but what you do have should be special…
At the center of the collection’s theme was a modern nomad who journeys from place to place, from morning to night. The paradox is that she finds freedom in layers, in pieces that work together… From textiles (cashmere, angora, and mohair) and silhouettes (ponchos, origami and cocoon coats) to palette (maroon, midnight, and multibrand) and design details (feathers, tinseling, paillettes, and pleating) the pieces are both comfortable and comforting. These clothes are meant for hibernating, woven from a tapestry of natural inspiration, these shapes and patterns take form with a trademark resilience and self-assuredness that personifies the DVF brand. The stirring palette shifts like a painter’s canvas as daylight sinks into the horizon with dramatic crimsons and aubergines, while sparkling flecks of metallic ombré and sequin accents represent the heaven’s constellations.
Aboriginal influences were quite prevalent on this runway with Navajo embroideries, tundra, sunset, or moonrise patchworks, and tribal beading. The presentation also featured fine jewelry from the collaborative partnership with H. Stern. My favorite looks included: a sunset plaid mohair cocoon coat layered over a charcoal knit turtleneck, mini, and skinny pant; the black origami wool cashmere coat with desert patchwork silk jacquard dress, and black plisse leather pant; the camel knit cardigan and chevron cabochon shift; a tundra boucle pom pom coat atop a black merino leather trim cardigan with metallic tweed skirt, and snake skinny pant; the leopard chine taffeta wrap dress; and a cosmo blue sequin shift tee with charcoal merino knit sweater pant.
This is the woman who after 25 years re-launched her brand, secured all the licensing agreements, and reclaimed her eponymous line. There is an awe-inspiring strength, confidence, and determination that Diane von Furstenberg embodies and by extension her clothes evoke. In fact, these are tenets of the brand. The CFDA President’s longevity is a true testament to her talent, her drive, and her tenacity. We all want to bottle that equanimity, spritz it on before we leave home, and exude it whenever we walk into the room. I think that’s why women gravitate towards her clothes; her collection represents an inner strength, because the woman behind the brand hasn’t just survived, she’s succeeded tenfold!
You can’t help but feel smart, sexy, and irresistible in a DVF original—an impenetrable, unstoppable force of nature and with her new collection she goes on to prove that this nomadic message not only transcends from one continent to the next, from day to night, it’s eternal, defying geography and time! Now more than three decades later, the strong-willed, self-made legend has expanded her fashion empire to include ready-to-wear, swim, accessories, footwear, and handbags. With 28 freestanding Diane von Furstenberg boutiques worldwide and flagships in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, the global lifestyle brand is the tree of life once planted from the seed of a timelessly classic wrap dress.
Images provided courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Newsgroup.
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