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.
Hemingway’screative influences for novels like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell toArms, and The Old Man and the Sea came not only from his famoushunting trips, his liaisons in Cuba, or his relationships with Gertrude Stein,F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and other Lost Generation writers. DuringHemingway’s period of greatest literary foment, his most seminal relationshipwas with Hadley Richardson, his first wife. In Paris Without End,acclaimed author Gioia Diliberto,biographer of Jane Addams and Brenda Frazier, delivers a gripping, novelisticexploration of Hadley’s personality and her role in Hemingway’s life, finally unclouding our view of Hemingway’s relationship with theone woman he never stopped loving.
This is how Emmanuel Carrère, the magnetic journalist, novelist, filmmaker, and chameleon, describes his subject: "Limonov is not a fictional character. There. I know him. He has been a young punk in Ukraine, the idol of the Soviet underground; a bum, then a multimillionaire's butler in Manhattan; a fashionable writer in Paris; a lost soldier in the Balkans; and now, in the fantastic shambles of postcommunism, the elderly but charismatic leader of a party of young desperadoes. He sees himself as a hero; you might call him a scumbag: I suspend my judgment on the matter. It's a dangerous life, an ambiguous life: a real adventure novel. It is also, I believe, a life that says something. Not just about him, Limonov, not just about Russia, but about all our history since the end of the Second World War."
So Eduard Limonov isn't fictional—but he might as well be. This pseudobiography isn't a novel, but it reads like one: from Limonov's grim childhood to his desperate, comical, ultimately successful attempts to gain the respect of Russia's literary intellectual elite; to his immigration to New York, then to Paris; to his return to the motherland. Limonov could be read as a charming picaresque. But it could also be read as a troubling counternarrative of the second half of the twentieth century, one that reveals a violence, an anarchy, a brutality, that the stories we tell ourselves about progress tend to conceal.