Confidence, grace, and strength are why I admire Mrs. von Furstenberg. She always seems comfortable with herself, sure of her words and settled in her skin. In many ways, she is the woman I want to become! (My current Inspiration Board says it all.)
In honor of Women’s History Month and the recent International Women’s Day – a holiday celebrated in my home because it was celebrated in the former Soviet Union by my family, and my father continued the tradition when he and my mother came to the United States in 1977 – I’m kicking off a series of interviews with powerful women, with a faux q-and-a with Diane von Furstenberg.
Like the other women that I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from in coming posts, Mrs. von Furstenberg inspires me to be greater, climb higher, and trust my inner voice. I hope her wisdom will uplift you to Always Be Your Best You, love yourself, trust yourself and never leave home without a layer (or two) of mascara.
Legal Note – The below interview with Diane von Furstenberg is not real. I never spoke to her. Quotes are taken from her book. I structured the questions to put the quotes in the context that they appeared in the book.
P2: How did the wrap dress change your life? How did it make you the woman you are today?
DVF: My main goal was to be free and independent. With the first money I earned, I bought Cloudwalk, a property in Connecticut for my twenty-seventh birthday, so the family could spend relaxed time together in a setting where we could also feel free. … While on the road to promote the cosmetics and the [wrap] dresses, I realized from my conversations with women how many had insecurities. By listening to their insecurities and sharing my own, we all felt stronger. The stronger I became the stronger I wanted others to be. (page 42 and page 164)
P2: Strength and confidence are how I feel in your clothing. What do you think the DVF brand exudes and how does that reflect your personality?
DVF: Effortless. Sexy. On-the-go. If it isn’t effortless, if it isn’t sexy, if you cannot put it in a little suitcase, it’s not DVF. … My personal style and designs [are] one and the same – simple, happy, sexy … (page 225 and page 199)
P2: What advice would you give to young women who don’t have a clear direction / professional focus?
DVF: Listen, always listen. Most people at the beginnings of their lives don’t know what they want to be unless you have a real vocation, so it is very important to listen. Sometimes there are doors that will open and you think it is not an important door and yet it is – so it’s very important to be curious and pay attention, because sometimes you learn and you don’t even know you’re learning. (page 149)
P2: What’s your one, big business tip for young entrepreneurs?
DVF: Passion and persistence are what matter. Dreams are achievable and you can make your fantasy come true, but there are no shortcuts. Nothing happens without hard work. (page 154)
P2: From your book, The Woman I Wanted To Be, it’s clear your mother played an epic role in your life. What is the biggest lesson she taught you?
DVF: Never, ever, blame others for what befalls you, no matter how horrible it might be. Trust you, and only you, to be responsible for your own life … She wanted me to be independent and responsible for myself. (page 7 page 9)
P2: What was the key to your own parenting success? Please share with this new mom!
DVF: I never talked down to my children, Alexandre and Tatiana. I encouraged them to express their opinions and take responsibility for themselves. I also involved them in every facet of my life, including my business. “I have my job and school is your job” I told them. “We all go to work, we all have our own lives, we all have our responsibilities. You deliver on yours and I’ll deliver on mine.” (page 43)
P2: Being a working mom is a challenge. Looking back, how do you view that time in your life?
DVF: I have a great empathy with working mothers and the tug of war they feel. It was always wrenching to walk out the door. Once, outside, however, I felt free, energized and focused on making a good life for all of us. (page 42)
P2: Describe your relationship with your children, today.
DVF: My children are the bookend that support me. (page 45)
P2: You’ve had so many reincarnations in your life. Do you wish you could undo certain choices that you now know were really not ideal for your journey to becoming the woman you wanted to be?
DVF: No one goes through life with one rigid personality. We are far more complex with various needs and desires that present themselves at different stages of our lives. … I’ve often asked myself what sort of woman I’d be today if I hadn’t experimented with such greatly different lifestyles … I needed to try on different versions of myself to see which one fit me best. (page 86)
P2: Right now, it seems you are wearing the philanthropic and motivational hat quite a bit, especially when it comes to empowering women. Tell me about the DVF Awards.
DVF: The DVF Awards were established in 2010 to honor and support extraordinary women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire; women who have transformed the lives of others through their commitment, resources and visibility. (page 116)
P2: You’ve inspired so many women over the years, myself included. Who inspired you?
DVF: Jackie Kennedy Onassis inspired me with her elegance, her beauty, and her incredible style. Style has so much to do with the way one handles oneself and I always admired Jackie’s dignity at all moments of her tragic life … Angelina Jolie is another woman I find both ravishing and interesting … What makes Angelina uniquely beautiful is her substance and her wanting to give voice to those who have none. page 104 and 105
P2: In a recent interview with Nina Garcia, she said “fashion has power to transform”. I used the power of fashion myself when I need to get our of a year-long slump following the loss of my father. Can you recall at time when fashion and beauty were your weapons for a wa
y to Carpe Diem and laugh in the face of adversity?
DVF: In the middle of my [cancer] treatment my friend Mort Zuckerman invited me to go the White House for a state dinner the president and Mrs. Clinton were giving for the emperor and the empress of Japan … In spite of the radiation burn shadings on each side of my face, which I managed to hide with makeup, I ended up looking beautiful … I loved my voluptuous [John Galliano] dress … Feeling frivolous and beautiful in the middle of my painful treatment was a wink to myself. It felt great. (page 122)
P2: You live in a world centered around beauty. How do you define beauty?
DVF: Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty. All these attributes form beauty and personality, that elusive state of being that is not necessarily perfect. It is our imperfections that make us different. Personality, not traditional beauty, is always what I’ve looked for in my models. (page 106)