Most fairy tales end with the girl marrying the prince,” said Diane von Furstenberg as she introduced her story during her keynote address. “Mine began that way.”

Few designers could describe their careers within the framework of a magical allegory, let alone do that twice. But as von Furstenberg illustrated during her presentation, “Turning a Passion for Life Into a Penchant for Business: The Second Time Around,” she has actually had two blessed careers as a professional fashion designer, first in her 20s and then again in her 50s. As she described the history of her two business lives, common threads appeared between them, as von Furstenberg’s combination of determination and charm, plus a good bit of sex appeal, were a strong enough recipe to overcome almost any obstacle thrown in her way, not the least of which was her own naïveté.

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