von Furstenberg is one of the rare designers who are
truly household names, Most often associated with her
iconic wrap dress, sheís been dressing women in her
instantly recognizable style for over 40 years.
caught up with the legendary designer at Neiman Marcus,
while she was in town to meet clients, show her fall
collection and have a chat with Neiman Marcus Fashion
Director Ken Downing.
As chairman of the board of the Council of Fashion
Designers of America, youíre on a serious mission to
improve New York Fashion Week. Youíve even sent out
personal letters encouraging designers to cast more
diverse runway shows. How is that working out?
I do that every year, and I also remind the designers
about the health of the girls because fashion has a
responsibility. Beauty is heath, and itís important
that we respect diversity. Thatís very important to
The fashion industry is trying to make fashion shows
more relevant to the consumer by making pieces available
for immediate purchase. How do you see the
"see-now, buy-now" experiments playing out?
I kind of brought up that whole issue. With the digital
revolution and the influencers, there was a lot of
enormous visibility for clothes that people could only
get six months later. Thatís why I brought up the
issue. I felt that ó especially small designers ó
donít necessarily have to do these big shows and get
all of this visibility too early.
now, everybodyís surfing the tsunami, and weíll have
to see where it all goes.
Youíve been quoted as saying that your mission is to
give women more confidence. Is that what you see fashionís
Well itís my role in fashion, for sure.
Your 2014 museum show celebrated the 40th anniversary of
the wrap dress, and the exhibit mixed items from your
personal and professional life. Has it always been that
way for you?
Yes, and itís not always necessarily that good, but itís
always been that way for me.
loved that exhibition because it was dedicated only to
the wrap dress and how amazing that dress was. People
think I made the dress. I think the dress made me.
Aside from creating one of the most iconic dresses of
the 20th century, whatís the key to your success?
What I think is important in the success that Iíve had
is my personal relationship with women ó whether I
know them or not. They trust me.
reason I have that is that Iím always very honest, and
people relate to that. Especially when they see you as
somebody successful, itís very important to show your
vulnerabilities, your failures and your insecurities.
I started out, I didnít know what I wanted to do, but
I knew what kind of woman I wanted to be ó an
independent woman. And I became an independent woman
because of a dress. And because of that dress, I then
made other women become independent. Selling my
confidence to others to be confident. And that has
created a chain of love.
thing is that I create the tools for a woman at
different moments of her life.
Whatís the wildest journey that dress has taken you
It was exhilarating when I was a 25-year-old girl, and I
would count the dresses on Fifth Avenue. Then I got used
that dress has so many stories. My favorite is Anne
Hathaway ó she introduced me to her mother one day,
and her mother said, "You know, she doesnít know
this, but I seduced her father in the dress. As a matter
of fact, I conceived her in it."
What advice would you give to young designers?
To really try to figure out very clearly what they stand
for and focus on that.
With the spring 2017 collection, Jonathan Saunders has
taken the helm as chief creative officer. Was there a
long search to find someone you were comfortable enough
with to hand over the reins?
Yes, yes. I think heís the right person for many
reasons, but mostly because he has such an incredible
sense of mixing fabrics and colors. Heís really a true
artist in that, and thatís what I was about. I think
heíll bring a strong, fresh approach to my brand.
What are you looking forward to doing with all of your
Well, Iím going to focus on my voice. And spend a lot
of time to use my voice for people who have no voice.
I read that you had your beloved dog Shannon cloned. How
is that working out?
I wasnít a great fan of that. My husband did that, but
as a result, we have beautiful dogs.