Diane von Furstenberg says all she ever wanted was “a little bit of a man’s life in a woman’s body.”
It doesn’t hurt when that body is draped in one of DVF’s signature wrap dresses.
“When I made that dress, all I wanted was to be independent financially,” she told Fusion’s Alicia Menendez at Tina Brown‘s “Women in the World” forum on Wednesday, “it was my door.”
The wrap dress was first made in 1972, and just four years later, von Furstenberg had sold 5 million of them and she landed on the cover of Newsweek at age 29. von Furstenberg explained that one of the best parts of her success is the ability it gives her to help empower other women.
That power can come from the feminine strength they feel in one of her dresses, or through her philanthropic endeavors such as the DVF awards which honors “extraordinary women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.”
The legendary designer says she’s “never met a woman who is not strong,” but notes that women too often hide their strength.
“Curiously, when there is a tragedy, the woman’s strength always comes out,” she told the audience in San Antonio’s Charline McCombs Empire Theatre. “Women always deliver.”
And while women are strong because, frankly, we have to be, von Furstenberg wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a lot of work to be a woman, faking this and that” she said, “but in the end, I’d rather be a woman anyway.”
Her new book, “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” served as therapy for the legendary designer, or at times “like a long visit to the gynecologist” due to its complete honesty about her ups and downs.
von Furstenberg says that level of honesty and transparency is the best thing you can offer to others.
“The moments you remember most fondly are the moments of failures,” she says. “You don’t remember the moments of glory. You just have nice pictures.”
Fusion live streamed the conference and is airing exclusive content on “Alicia Menendez Tonight.”
Participants also included Dolores Huerta and Dr. Jill Biden, among others.