NEW YORK -- Diane Von Furstenberg is a woman on a mission.
She wants the world to know that television home shopping is here to stay, and revels in revealing the kind of QVC sales figures that make other designers envious.
In 1984, Von Furstenberg sold her name to licensees and moved to Paris after having created a sensation with a wrap dress that was so successful, it was featured on the cover of Newsweek. She returned to the U.S. in 1989 and remembers people saying, "She's a has-been, she made a few dresses."
But things change.
"Now," she says, "I have the momentum of success."
Not only did she manage to buy back her name, Von Furstenberg managed to angle her way into the red-hot center of electronic retailing.
The latter is partly due to her close friendship with QVC chairman Barry Diller -- who bought the company at her behest -- and partly due to her unbridled support for the medium.
"A lot of people can edit other people's ideas or stimulate other people's ideas," said Diller. "She's instinctively creative, with ideas, concepts and themes. She has the ability to produce genuinely good ideas."
In addition to designing and selling a line of clothing on QVC, Von Furstenberg is playing a major role in the development of Q2, QVC's weekend lifestyle channel.
As creative planning director of Q2, a job she began on March 3 after collaborating with Diller on the concept for nearly two years, Von Furstenberg is more sought-after than she was as a Seventies party girl.
It's a feeling she relishes after getting the cold shoulder when she tried to reenter the fashion business.
"Q2 is really a team," Von Furstenberg said. "I don't have a day-to-day function, but I spend a lot of time working on it. I don't want to run the company, but I know a lot of people.
Von Furstenberg -- who describes her new position as "an ambassador, talking to people and conceiving ideas" -- has been working the designer circuit like a seasoned politician, trying to broker deals with everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Madonna.Lagerfeld hasn't signed anything yet, but has said he will work with Q2.
"One shouldn't be afraid of being a pathbreaker," said Ralph Toledano, president of Karl Lagerfeld, addressing what some sources cite as a concern that selling on Q2 could upset the company's major department store accounts. "If this is properly done in terms of marketing, it could be a very successful business. It doesn't have to hurt our current affairs."
Von Furstenberg said she has also met with Gianni Versace, Claude Montana and other European designers for preliminary talks.
The format of how Q2 will cover the European collections is still in development, but Von Furstenberg said she's thinking of offering individual pieces from different designers rather than full collections.
She had lunch with Ralph Lauren, but glosses over the question of whether Lauren wants to sell on Q2, saying, "Ralph is intelligent enough to be interested in anything."
Lauren could not be reached for comment.
Von Furstenberg says Madonna called with an idea to sell accessories and apparel and met with her twice.
"I think there's a way we can work together," she said. "We're developing samples."
On May 2, Von Furstenberg met with Louis Sagar, the owner of Zona, the environmentally oriented store in SoHo with products ranging from candles to furniture.
"I think we are going to do things together," Von Furstenberg said. "They will probably do shows that are celebrations of the holidays."
"We're definitely working on a series of themes," said Sagar. "The emphasis will be on handcrafted and artisan products because the perception of TV shopping has been through commodity products."
He said wares such as hammered bronze bowls from Thailand, baskets, ceramics and candles could be sold, among other things.
Von Furstenberg has also spoken to Emily Woods, senior vice chairman of J. Crew.
"I'm talking to Diane," said Woods. "We're watching it and staying abreast of the developments but have not decided how J. Crew will partake in it yet. But Diane makes it intriguing, as only she could. She certainly has a lot of very interesting people involved in [Q2]. She's a woman with vision and she's aggressive."Von Furstenberg will produce a program called "On the Go," with luggage and organizers designed to simplify packing. She is also working on a home concept, involving bedding, a subject she explored in "Beds," a coffee-table book published in 1991.
"I can't believe that all of a sudden I'm in the middle of this whole big retail revolution," Von Furstenberg said. "I had a psychic who used to tell me, 'Television, television, video,' and I said, 'What a bore."'
Von Furstenberg discovered home shopping when she visited QVC in February 1992 and saw Susan Lucci selling hair products. She had a vision.
In November 1992, Von Furstenberg was on the air selling Silk Assets. The line has done $15 million to date by offering bright prints and solids, with the premise that the palettes will work together season after season..
Asked whether she feels constrained designing for the masses, Von Furstenberg said, "Yes, of course I feel constrained, but I have news for you: No matter who you sell to, you feel constrained. For me, the most important thing is the quality of the fabric and the style. It's bringing a little bit of sophistication to the masses.
"It goes back to my original idea when I made little dresses," she said, referring to the ubiquitous wrap dress she designed in the Seventies. "I want to offer great quality at a great price. I'm glad I ended up 20 years later with the same point of view."
In the fall, Von Furstenberg will introduce Casual Chic, a collection of relaxed knitwear on QVC. She is working on a Christmas gift show with his-and-hers silk pajamas, wallets and handbags. And she plans to meet with representatives of QVC-The Shopping Channel, QVC's home shopping joint-venture in the U.K., to discuss what she can hawk over there.
Not all of Von Furstenberg's ideas are instant hits. Surroundings, a line of home fragrance has been a hard sell, although she recently sold $700,000 worth of it when it was featured as "Today's Special Value" on QVC.
"The prices on Surroundings were too high," she said. "Price is very important on television. We will improve the offer."Von Furstenberg's stake in QVC Inc. has something to do with her level of commitment. While she refused to say how much stock she has in the company, she said, "I have a little piece of what Barry has because I am his consultant. I have some financial interest, so that makes me very involved."
Diller's 16 percent stake in the company is worth some $280 million at current stock prices. The company is traded over-the-counter.
"To Barry, I am his adviser on everything," she said. "I always have been. We go back 18 years. We talk quite a few times a day. I got him into this business. Sometimes I don't want the responsibility. Sometimes I want the credit."
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)