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Over 50 years after its creation, Diane von Furstenberg says the wrap dress is her greatest professional accomplishment

Samantha Grindell   

Over 50 years after its creation, Diane von Furstenberg says the wrap dress is her greatest professional accomplishment
  • "Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge" premiered Wednesday at the Tribeca Film Festival.
  • The documentary provides an intimate look at the designer's life and career.

Diane von Furstenberg is reflecting on the legacy of the wrap dress.

On Wednesday, the Hulu documentary "Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival ahead of its global release on Hulu on June 25.

Co-directed by Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton, the documentary offers an intimate look at von Furstenberg's life. It delves into her childhood in post-World War II Europe, her marriage to a German prince, her life as a socialite in New York amid the AIDS crisis, and, of course, her illustrious fashion career.

Ahead of the premiere, von Furstenberg, 77, hosted a press conference at her New York flagship store to celebrate the documentary. She spoke to a handful of reporters in her office — which was covered in personal photos and colorful furniture — alongside Obaid-Chinoy, Dalton, and producers Fabiola Beracasa Beckman and Tracy Aftergood.

The designer has no shortage of success in her career, but during the press conference, she said her wrap dress is still her greatest source of professional pride.

The wrap dress changed von Furstenberg's life

Von Furstenberg created the wrap dress in 1973, taking inspiration from ballerina's tops and bright fabrics she first saw in Italy, as she shared in the documentary. She originally sold wrap tops with skirts but turned the silhouette into one garment after seeing Julie Nixon Eisenhower wearing them together.

The dress became a staple in millions of women's wardrobes, with von Furstenberg making 15,000 wrap dresses each week by 1975, CNN reported. Celebrities have also been spotted wearing wrap dresses over the years, from Oprah Winfrey to Karlie Kloss, both of whom are featured in the documentary.

"That dress became a phenomenon," von Furstenberg said in "Woman in Charge." "It became the first dress for so many people for the first job, for the first interview."

"I made her, but she really made me," the designer said of the wrap dress at the press conference on Wednesday.

But as she looked back on her career, von Furstenberg also spoke openly about her hardships.

"There's so many things I'm not proud of," she said. "The ups and downs. Right now, my business is smaller than it's ever been. But then, it's an opportunity to go again in the right way."

The designer has reinvited herself throughout her half-century in the fashion world.

After DVF lost money in the 1980s when the wrap dress went out of style, von Furstenberg found renewed success in the 1990s by selling her clothes on QVC. (Her husband, Barry Diller, was CEO of the company from 1992 to 1994, though the couple didn't tie the knot until 2001.) Likewise, following the pandemic that brought DVF's brewing financial issues to a head in 2020, the brand released a line with Target in March, exposing a whole new audience to the fashion house.

Adaptation is part of life, according to the designer

At the press conference, von Furstenberg said she had no choice but to evolve as her career did.

"We don't choose where we are born. We don't choose who our parents are. We don't choose a lot of collective things that happen," she said. "But what we can choose is how we navigate our destiny and how we navigate our intention toward our dreams."

"You constantly have to adapt," she went on to say. "You design your own life."

And though the wrap dress has defined her professional life, von Furstenberg said her family is her greatest source of pride. She has two children and five grandchildren. Her granddaughter, Talita von Furstenberg, is the cochair of DVF.

"At 77, what I'm the proudest of is the family," Furstenberg said. "They're definitely my best samples, and I'm very proud of that."

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