The daughter of a Holocaust survivor and wife of an Austrian nobleman, Diane von Furstenberg burst onto New York’s fashion scene in 1969, and within a few years became an international sensation with her colorful wrap dress in printed jersey. Embraced by millions of American women of all ages, sizes, and shapes, the dress became a cult object and symbol of women’s liberation, tied inexorably to the image of youth, independence, and sex Diane herself projected.
In this masterful biography, Gioia Diliberto brings 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. Like Coco Chanel, Diane has always been her own best advertisement. Morphing from a frizzy brunette outsider in a sea of sleek blondes to a stunning pop cultural icon, she embodied the brand she created—“the DVF woman,” a model of self-sufficiency, sensuality, and confidence.
Diliberto’s captivating, balanced portrait, based on scores of interviews with Diane’s family, friends, lovers, employees, and the designer herself, explores von Furstenberg’s relationships with her husbands and lovers, and illuminates fashion’s evolution from rare luxury to marketing monster and the development of a uniquely American style. Lively and insightful, the book also explores the larger world of the nation’s elite, where fashion, culture, society, politics, and Hollywood collide. Diane von Furstenberg is a modern fable of self-invention, fame, wealth, failure, and success that mirrors late-twentieth century America itself.
Gioia Diliberto is a journalist, biographer, and novelist. She is the author of the biographies Paris without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife, A Useful Woman: The Early Life of Jane Addams, and Debutante: The Story of Brenda Frazier and the novels I Am Madame X and The Collection. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, and Vanity Fair, and she is a visiting lecturer in writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design and DePaul University. She lives in Chicago.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Diane von Furstenberg is a one of the best-known fashion designers in the world and is the woman behind the iconic wrap dress. The Belgian-born designer was a jet-setting princess for a short time thanks to her marriage to Austro-Italian prince Egon von Furstenberg, though she became a household name due to her famous wrap dress among the many other creations to come from her house of design. It is she, not the prince, who is credited with making the Furstenberg name known to the world. In addition to her fashion empire, Furstenberg has written books, was a well-known ‘70s socialite, works tirelessly as a philanthropist, remains a proud mother of her two children, and is frequently sought after as a fashion and entrepreneurial expert.
Furstenberg’s first husband Prince Egon was the heir to the Fiat automobile fortune and son of Prince Tassilo von Furstenberg (1903-1989) and first wife Clara Agnelli (born 1920). Agnelli is the sister of Italian industrialist and former head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003). Furstenberg and the prince had two children together, a son and a daughter.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Kent Page McGroarty is a freelance writer. She is a frequent lifestyle contributor to online magazine EDGE Publications and Demand Media sites LIVESTRONG.com, eHow Home and Garden and Local.com. She has a B.A. in English from Saint Joseph's University.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
Furstenberg initially caught the public’s eye thanks to her marriage to Prince Egon, but her fame grew exponentially due to her best-selling wrap dress, which was synonymous with the tag line “Feel like a woman. Wear a dress.” Furstenberg’s many accomplishments and awards include five million of her jersey wrap dresses sold in 1976, which landed her on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. The latter magazine celebrated her as the most “marketable designer since Coco Chanel” and named her the newest icon of the female liberation movement. Though trousers were popular with women in the 1970s as a way of empowering women, Furstenberg’s dresses and approach to feminism blended the beauty of femininity with the ambition and drive to compete in a man’s world.
Furstenberg took a break from fashion in 1985 and moved to Paris, though she re-emerged in 1991 with Silk Assets, a collection available only through a home-shopping network. Furstenberg has been called a “pioneer” in the world of home shopping, with her first collection selling out in less than two hours. She re-launched her line in 1997, causing a whole new generation of women to fall in love with her wrap dress. Furstenberg went on to create her own fashion empire, though her original fashion boutique can still be found in New York’s trendy meatpacking district...
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Carla Zampatti is an enduring Australian fashion icon. In 2015, in a remarkable feat of longevity, she celebrated the 50th anniversary of her fashion house in Australia. And despite the fact that so many of us have grown up with Carla Zampatti - loving, coveting and wearing her elegant, beautiful designs - very few of us know the private woman behind the brand. And yet it is a compelling, fascinating and ultimately moving story of one woman's determination, ambition, resilience and dreams.
Carla was only five when her mother took her to visit the dressmaker in her local small town in Lombardy, Italy. It was then, in a sudden flash of inspiration, that she knew she would become a fashion designer. She was a feisty little girl who had two older brothers - she would run after them up the mountains on their adventures, while they called to her, 'Dai, Carla, e possible farlo,' come on Carla, you can do it! And she never lost that spirit of determination, even when, as an eight-year-old with no English, her family moved across the world to a tiny speck of a town in Western Australia, a place where her dreams of becoming a designer seemed almost out of reach...
A household name, a true Australian legend, and an inspiring woman - this is Carla Zampatti, and this is her story.
‘It was Zampatti's enormous drive, flair and independence of mind that enabled her to become one of Australia's top fashion designers. In a market saturated with mediocre celebrity autobiographies, it's refreshing to find one that is well-written and down to earth' Sydney Morning Herald
'Carla's story is one of drive and determination, and well worth reading' Brisbane News
'From Australia's fashion iconoclast, you won't be able to put this tale of ambition down' Cosmopolitan
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