Diane Von Furstenberg is a US fashion icon. But she never forgot her Belgian roots – as evidenced by a return to Brussels, the city of her birth, to celebrate a half-century of her glamorous career.
“I really lived an American dream as a young European and it was fascinating,” the 76-year-old said in an interview, as the Belgian capital puts on an exhibition of her work.
The show, at Brussels’ Fashion and Lace Museum, is the first exhibition in Europe dedicated to the Belgian-American designer, organisers said.
Naturally, pride of place goes to Von Furstenberg’s signature wrap dress, which made her famous as soon as it went on sale in 1973, three years after she made New York her home.
Sought after for its simplicity and practicality, the soft jersey wrap dress has been made in several dozen iterations in bright colours, making it an enduring feature in celebrity wardrobes.
“It makes a woman confident. And if you are confident, you are beautiful,” Von Furstenberg said with a wide smile.
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“The jersey: very practical. Doesn’t crinkle. You put in a print that moves and moves with your body. That all of a sudden makes beautiful curves in your body. The shape: very simple.”
At age 25, Von Furstenberg was making 25,000 dresses a week to keep up with demand.
Her star never dimmed, enabling her to go into philanthropy and support her view of herself as “a big feminist”.
That’s a theme informing the Brussels exhibition, which is titled Woman Before Fashion.
“What is most important to me is to use my voice, my experience, my knowledge, my resources, my connections in order to help other women to be the women they want to