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Diane von Fürstenberg

Diane von Fürstenberg

Diane von Fürstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg (German: Diane Prinzessin zu Fürstenberg; born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin; December 31, 1946[1]), is a Belgian fashion designer best known for her wrap dress.[2][3][4][5] She initially rose to prominence when she married into the German princely House of Fürstenberg, as the wife of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. Following their separation in 1973 and divorce in 1983, she has continued to use his family name.

Her fashion company, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF)[6] is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide,[7] with the company's headquarters and flagship boutique located in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.[8]

She is president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a position she has held since 2006;[3] in 2014 was listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes;[9] and in 2015 was included in the Time 100, as an Icon, by Time Magazine.[10] In 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from The New School.[11]

Diane von Fürstenberg
BornDiane Simone Michelle Halfin
(1946-12-31)December 31, 1946
Brussels, Belgium
Prince Egon von Fürstenberg
(m. 1969;div. 1983)

Barry Diller
(m. 2001)
IssuePrince Alexander
Princess Tatiana
HouseFürstenberg (by marriage)
OccupationFashion designer
Alma materUniversity of Geneva
Websitewww.dvf.com [56]

Early years

Fürstenberg was born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin in Brussels, Belgium to Jewish parents.[12] Her father, Moldovian-born Leon (Lipa) Halfin, migrated to Belgium in 1929 from Chişinău.[13] Her mother was Greek-born Liliane Nahmias, a Holocaust survivor.[14][15] 18 months before Fürstenberg was born, her mother was a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp. Fürstenberg has spoken broadly about her mother's influence in her life, crediting her with teaching her that "fear is not an option".[16]

Fürstenberg attended a boarding school in Oxfordshire.[17] She studied at Madrid University before transferring to the University of Geneva to study economics.[18] She then moved to Paris and worked as an assistant to fashion photographer's agent Albert Koski.[3] She left Paris for Italy to apprentice to the textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti in his factory, where she learned about cut, color and fabric.[3] It was here that she designed and produced her first silk jersey dresses.

Career and brand

Diane von Furstenberg during New York Fashion Week.

Diane von Furstenberg during New York Fashion Week.

A year after marrying, Fürstenberg began designing women's clothes: "The minute I knew I was about to be Egon's wife, I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts." After the Fürstenbergs separated in 1973, Egon also became a fashion designer.[19][20] After moving to New York, she met high-profile Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, who declared her designs "absolutely smashing". She had her name listed on the Fashion Calendar for New York Fashion Week, and so her business was created.[3]

In 1974, she introduced the knitted jersey "wrap dress", an example of which, due to its influence on women's fashion, is in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[2][6][21][22] After the success of the wrap dress, Furstenberg was featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1976.[23][24] The accompanying article declared her "the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel."[25] She launched a cosmetic line and her first fragrance, "Tatiana", named after her daughter.[25] The New York Times reported that by 1979 the annual retail sales for the company were $150 million.[3]

In 1985, Fürstenberg moved to Paris, France where she founded Salvy, a French-language publishing house.[3] Fürstenberg started a number of other businesses including a line of cosmetics and a home-shopping business, which she launched in 1991. In 1992, Fürstenberg sold $1.2 million dollars of her Silk Assets collection in two hours on QVC.[25] She credits the success with giving her the confidence to relaunch her company.

Fürstenberg relaunched her company in 1997, and reintroduced the wrap dress, which gained traction with a new generation of women. In 1998, she published her business memoir, Diane: A Signature Life.[3] In 2004, she introduced the DVF by H. Stern fine jewelry collection, and launched scarves and beachwear. In 2006, she was elected as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a position she still holds. In 2008, she received a star on Seventh Avenue's Fashion Walk of Fame.[3]

In 2009, Michelle Obama wore the DVF signature Chain Link print wrap dress on the official White House Christmas card.[26] That same year, a large-scale retrospective exhibition entitled "Diane von Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress" opened at the Manezh, one of Moscow's largest public exhibition spaces. It was curated by Andre Leon Talley and attracted a lot of media attention. In 2010, the exhibition traveled to São Paulo; and in 2011, to the Pace Gallery in Beijing.[27]

In 2010, Fürstenberg was awarded a Gold Medal at the annual Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala.[28] In 2011, DVF introduced a home collection, and a signature fragrance, DIANE.[29]

In 2012, Fürstenberg launched her first children’s collection with GapKids [30] and a denim collaboration with CURRENT/ELLIOTT.[31]

Her clothes have been worn by many celebrities including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Madonna, Tina Brown, Jessica Alba, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez.[32] Google Glass made its New York Fashion Week Debut at the designer's Spring 2013 fashion show.[33]

In 2014, Fürstenberg joined the Ban Bossy campaign as a spokesperson advocating leadership roles for girls.[34][35][36]

In 2018, the brand banned mohair use after a PETA exposé showed workers mutilating and killing goats to obtain it.[37] All fur, angora and exotic skins were also banned from future collections.[38]


Fürstenberg is a director of The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, which provides support to nonprofit organizations in the area of community building, education, human rights, arts, health and the environment.[39] The foundation supports The DVF Awards, presented annually to four women who display leadership, strength and courage in their commitment to women's causes.[40] In 2011, the foundation made a $20 million commitment to the High Line.[41]

Fürstenberg sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women’s leadership organization,[42] and served as one of the project chairs for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's review of the future of NYC's Fashion industry,[43] which was prepared by NYCEDC.

In 2016, Fürstenberg designed shirts for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.[44][45]

Pop culture

In 2014, Ovation TV featured The Fashion Fund, a documentary about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition. Fürstenberg starred alongside Anna Wintour in the program.[46]

In 2014, the E! network aired the first season of reality show House of DVF. Contestants on the show performed various tasks and challenges in the hopes of becoming a global brand ambassador for Furstenberg.[47][48] It returned for a second season.[49]

Personal life

Diane von Fürstenberg with her second husband Barry Diller at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere.

Diane von Fürstenberg with her second husband Barry Diller at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere.

At university, when she was 18, she met Prince Egon von Fürstenberg, the elder son of Prince Tassilo zu Fürstenberg, a German Roman Catholic prince, and his first wife, Clara Agnelli, an heiress to the Fiat automotive fortune and member of the Italian nobility. Married in 1969,[22] the couple had two children, Prince Alexander[50] and Princess Tatiana, who were born in New York City. She is now the grandmother of four, including Princess Talita.

The Fürstenbergs' marriage, although unpopular with the groom's family because of the bride's Jewish ethnicity, was considered dynastic, and on her marriage she became Her Serene Highness Princess Diane of Fürstenberg.[51] However, she lost any claim to the title following her divorce and 2001 remarriage.[52]

In 2001, she married American media mogul Barry Diller.[50]

Titles and styles

  • 31 December 1946 – 1969: Miss Diane Simone Michelle Halfin

  • 1969–1972: Her Serene Highness Princess Diane of Fürstenberg[53]

  • 1972–2001: Diane von Fürstenberg

  • 2001–present: Diane von Fürstenberg, Mrs. Diller

Published works

  • Furstenberg, Diane von (1998). Diane: A Signature Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0684843834.

  • Furstenberg, Diane von (2014). The Woman I Wanted to Be. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1451651546.


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