Excerpt: 'Influence'

Diane von Furstenberg

When we left Diane von Furstenberg's office in the Meatpacking District of New York City—housed in a building her empire built—one thing she told us in our interview resonated. She called herself Diane the Hunter. We are drawn to strong women, and Diane's tales of following her own path since she was a young woman living with her Holocaust survivor mother in Belgium are an inspiration to us. This hunter always pursued what she wanted, whether it was a life with her children in New York, an identity as a powerful icon of femininity, or a role as the head of a fashion empire based on simple, modern dresses. She met Prince Egon von Furstenberg when she was studying economics at the University of Geneva. They had two children. In 1970, Diane's jersey wrap dresses became a phenomenon and she was catapulted to the top of the fashion world. (Her designs and growing dominance landed her on the cover of Newsweek when she was just twenty-eight.) She took a hiatus from her company in the '80s, but a decade later she regained control of her eponymous label, infused it with renewed vigor, and expanded into accessories and cosmetics. In 2006, Diane was elected president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. We were her dates to the 2008 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, and we codesigned our dresses with her. After a fitting, we sat down to talk about her life.
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