By and  on January 19, 2007

NEW YORK — Diane von Furstenberg's first adjustment at the Council of Fashion Designers of America might come as a surprise to members — she wants everyone to wear name tags at meetings.

The idea could have sparked a controversy in the designer community, which has made "ego" one of its by-products, but at a meeting last week, the CFDA president swayed board members with her signature charm.

"I announced it at the board meeting and I said, 'Don't be offended if I ask you to wear one.' And I said, 'I have gone to conferences with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates putting little names on, so I think we can, too," von Furstenberg, who assumed the presidency last October, said on Thursday.

It's a good kickoff for the expansive agenda she has sculpted for her initial two-year tenure at the helm of the CFDA. Not only does von Furstenberg aim to strengthen communication within the American fashion community, she also has the powerful connections in fashion, entertainment, politics and other business segments that can make things happen. And she has major goals and plans. Her main aim is to elevate the status of American fashion, both locally and globally.

Von Furstenberg unveiled her agenda at a closed-door meeting of members at the W Hotel on Union Square Thursday evening, but gave WWD an exclusive preview Thursday afternoon. "My job as the president of the CFDA is to represent the designers," she said. "My first and main goal is really to increase the exposure of American fashion."

The agenda includes:

  • Creating a Business Service Network that could help the designer community by sharing information and expertise.

  • Guiding designers on how to build their export businesses and profiles abroad.

  • Working closely with New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on issues such as the venue for fashion week, with the ultimate goal to develop a permanent Fashion Center that could serve a multitude of purposes, including fashion shows, events and conferences.

  • Reassessing the show system with her counterparts in Paris, Milan and London.

  • Protecting designer's original designs by lobbying for antipiracy laws on Capitol Hill.
"I want to work on all the benefits," said von Furstenberg. "When you're part of the CFDA, what does it mean? It means you're part of a community, a constituency, and I think it's the role of the CFDA to give its members benefits. Sometimes it is financial benefits, because we come as a group and can therefore have discounts, but it's also guidance, such as on trademarks. I am very lucky. I have had my second career, which is only eight years old, but very, very successful, so the way I take this job is that it's about giving. I think with the most successful members of the CFDA, it will be about giving, and with the people who are less successful, it's more about taking. And so we are a community."

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