The first time I met Diane von Furstenberg was at Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary bash in New York City. In the midst of the biggest names in cinema and fashion, von Furstenberg came to me and complimented my dress. It made my night and spoke to the kind of person the fashion designer is—one that would graciously take the time to compliment a perfect stranger and make her feel seen.
Last night her annual DVF Awards, von Furstenberg highlighted five women far more deserving of the spotlight for their efforts in furthering women’s rights around the world. For the last 12 years, von Furstenberg—best known in American fashion for popularising the wrap dress which offered freedom of movement while allowing them to look professional and feminine—sought to recognize and support extraordinary ladies who are dedicated to transforming the lives of other women, by offering an award and a USD50,000 investment.
For the first time ever, the awards were held in Paris by invitation of The Women’s Forum, a leading French platform with a mission to amplify female voices on pressing global issues. “Paris is an incredibly emotional place for me, because it was here that I was first exposed to feminist literature and the first place I felt truly free,” says von Furstenberg before the awards.
Throughout her 49-year career, von Furstenberg has since travelled the globe and found like-minded women everywhere she went, including Asia. Von Furstenberg says she’s incredibly proud of the 60 stores she owns in China and her loyal following there (her recent digital show during Shanghai Fashion Week was a critical success) but it was one of her trips to Indonesia that inspired her most.
“There was a time in the late Seventies that I discovered Bali and that changed my life,” she says. “A lot of my prints came from that time, inspired by these beautiful flags they put up around towns when they have celebrations and I brought them back to my home in Connecticut. I still have them, they’re very close to my heart.”
Her love affair with Asia continues with a print-tastic collaboration with Thai fashion brand Jaspal for a capsule collection launching this season. “You know I find that all women are strong, but Asian women are even stronger because of the struggles they’re still facing today,” she says. “In fact, one of my honourees tonight is from Burma.”