Q&A / Last week, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg visited her brand new haute spot in Hawaii–the first DVF store in the Islands. She spoke to the Weekly about her signature wrap dresses, Hillary Clinton, the secret to confidence and why she doesn’t find it in plastic surgery.
As I walk through a bustling DVF Ala Moana–in a plain white tee and jeans–something becomes clear: A) I’m not dressed to be here and B) I am a boy.
By the dressing rooms, von Furstenberg sits on a curvy neon pink couch in, of course, a colorful wrap dress, speaking in French with a female customer trying on handbags nearby.
As I slip into my seat, shoppers quietly gravitate toward us and something else becomes clear: Women love Diane.
Hi, Diane. Sorry I’m not wearing something, um, prettier.
[Smiles] Don’t worry about it.
We’re sharing a special moment right now. This is your first time seeing the new store. I feel like we should hold hands or something.
[Laughs] Well, I came in this morning and it’s really fun to be here, the first time in Hawaii. I love this store, I think it’s very–
Woman: [Interjects] So nice to meet you, you’re an icon.
DVF: Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you.
Woman: Very good. I love the store, I’m such a fan–Oh, is this an interview?
Oh, it’s okay, you’re fine.
Woman: Sorry, just wanted to say hi.
DVF: Thank you.
She loves the store, too. You’ve said nature inspires your work a lot. Hawaii must be heaven for you.
Yes! I’m going to Kauai tomorrow with my family for the holidays, so I’m looking forward to hiking and everything else. I love nature because it puts you back to where you belong, you know? It’s also a source of inspiration.
Is there a certain place in the world you find yourself revisiting over and over?
Well, I travel a lot. A lot, a lot. But, but–
Woman 2: Do you like Hawaii?
DVF: I like Hawaii. Because I like to hike.
Woman 2: Well, we like you. [Walks away.]
So, I’m getting the sense women are inspired by you. Your wrap dresses are seen as symbols of “feminine power.”
Even Michelle Obama wore a DVF wrap dress on the White House Christmas Card two years ago…
Yes, that’s because women just feel good in it, they just feel good.
Sounds simple enough.
Right, and it’s pretty, easy, light. It’s just extremely flattering.
Speaking of powerful women, Hillary Clinton was recently in Hawaii for an economic conference.
You were a big supporter of her campaign. How would things be different if women were running the world today?
(Sighs) Oh, well, I think they’re going to have to eventually. I don’t know, the world is in just too much of a mess.
As president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, you’re in a leadership role. What do women bring to the world stage?
You know, for me, to be a leader itself means to take a risk when others can’t. And, therefore, in doing that, to inspire other people of their own power.
That reminds me of something you said in the ‘70s: “I’ve always wanted to live a man’s life in a woman’s body.” Are we there yet where women can aspire to live a woman’s life in a woman’s body, but mean what you meant then?
Yes, yes! I believe that. I mean, I can’t really imagine starting all over again. What I meant though was that I wanted to be–I needed to be–independent.
What’s the greatest issue facing women today?
Well, it depends in what country. In some countries, it’s–
Woman 3: What country were you born in?
Woman 3: In Antwerp?
Woman 3: Oh, Brussels! Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.
DVF: [Laughs] It’s okay.
Woman 3: So nice of you to let me listen in.
What about in the US? I’d imagine, especially in fashion, it’s a pressure to stay young, to appear young. Yet, you’ve said plastic surgery doesn’t interest you, personally.
Well, I think the most important thing is confidence. I’m afraid if I start to play around with my face, I would lose my confidence. I don’t know, maybe I’m just blind and I just don’t see it…
No way, you’re beautiful.
Woman 4: Do you tell your age?
DVF: Yes. 63.
Would you consider that the most overrated thing in fashion? Obsession with age?
Overrated? I don’t know. I think… Okay, listen. For me, what I do, my job, is to give women things I think will enhance their looks, their lives, things that could become their best friends. You know, to enjoy them. Their clothes, their accessories, things that will come together based on the person. It’s all about confidence, authenticity, what I do and what I sell. That’s what I want to give women.
Which is why people often ask you what makes a strong woman. But what about a strong man? I could use some pointers.
It’s the same thing, man or a woman, it makes no difference. What’s important is that you need to be the person that you want to be, right? Have a dream and most important–okay, look you want one big piece of advice? You want one?
From you? Okay.
The most important relationship you have is the relationship you have with yourself. That’ll be my gift to you for the day.
All right, thanks.
Okay, you can hug me now.