NEW YORK — Diane von Furstenberg feels fortunate that she’s old enough to have danced at Studio 54 but young enough to be part of the digital revolution.
This story first appeared in the April 1, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I’m a good candidate for all of this [social media]. I feel so sorry for Andy Warhol. He would have gone crazy with social media, e-mail and Facebook,” von Furstenberg told WWD during an interview at her brand’s headquarters in the Meatpacking District here.
The designer — in the midst of a year-long 40th anniversary celebration of her wrap dress — is watching the brand’s latest digital initiative unfold. Dubbed “Journey of a Dress,” it’s a kind of a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” for fashion: A series of influencers around the world will style one of von Furstenberg’s New Jeanne Two dresses in black and white chain link and document the experience via social media. Once they’re done, they send it on to the next recipient. Emma Roberts, Jourdan Dunn, Coco Rocha and bloggers Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad, Chriselle Lim of The Chriselle Factor and Jessica Stein of Tuula Vintage are some of the participants.
“Coco [Rocha] has it now, and then someone else will get it,” von Furstenberg said. (Next up is French blogger Betty Autier from Le Blog de Betty).
“It has to be organic; you can’t strategize Instagram months in advance,” the designer said. “It’s called Instagram — it has the word ‘insta’ in it.”
Rocha — who filmed a video about her “wrap story” that will go live on dvf.com later this week — has had the dress since February. Each influencer will create photo-driven and written content around the dress, as well as a monthly Webisode series that will live on dvf.com and the brand’s YouTube channel. The program — which has a dedicated hashtag, #journeyofadress — will run through November.
“I want to emphasize the fact that — and sometimes I fight with my people [on this point] — it has to stay organic and it has to be real,” von Furstenberg said. “More than ever, I realized that truth is the most important thing, and I think that in this age of digital revolution, fake people don’t have a good time. People complain about lack of privacy, but who cares? I don’t care.”
The designer, 67, claimed she was working social media before there was social media. When she traveled around the country doing public appearances in her 20s, she spent time in fitting rooms with consumers and infused them with her confidence — in turn selling them loads of $86 dresses.
Von Furstenberg is tech savvy — she admitted that she sleeps with her iPad. But when it comes to social media, she mixes up her approach. For example, she used to tweet a lot but is now favoring Instagram.
“If you look at it, some [posts] are business oriented — and sometimes I resent it because it’s too commercial, so I will put a picture of my dog,” the designer said.
She also has more than 1.8 million followers on Sina Weibo — the Chinese microblogging service similar to Twitter — and expects this number to hit two million by June.
Another digital initiative taking place to fete the anniversary is “What’s Your Wrap Story” — where fans of the brand are encouraged to submit personal stories at dvfwrapstory.com. The site has already received hundreds of stories spanning multiple languages.
And there are apparently plenty of stories tied to the dress, which, it turns out, has helped bring at least one famous light to life — Anne Hathaway.
Von Furstenberg said that when the actress introduced her to her mother, Kate McCauley Hathaway, an intimate story was revealed.
“Her mom told me something that even Anne didn’t know,” the designer said. “Anne was conceived in a wrap dress.”
Clearly, the designer’s signature dress has taken on a life of its own.