Peripatetic as her life may be, Diane von Furstenberg recently took some time to run through what goes on before, after and in between of all that work.
WWD: When your family is with you, what do you like to do with them? Where might the conversation go? Do they often ask for advice?
Diane von Furstenberg: My family and I love to travel and to be outdoors…we love to hike. We will go on the boat or on an adventure, or we relax at home in Connecticut. I have always treated my children like adults and have been completely honest with them.…I think honesty is so important. A lot of people ask me for advice, but I am often asking my family for advice…my husband and both of my children are on the board of my company. I trust their judgement immensely and it has been such a privilege to see both of my children become such wonderful parents. I am very proud of my children and grandchildren.
WWD: When you manage to break away from work on a weekend afternoon, what might we find you doing? What is your ideal day?
D.V.F.: If I am not traveling, I usually go home to Connecticut, where I like to hike or just read in my studio. We have a converted barn that is separate from the house where I go to unwind and find clarity. I can spend hours in there, reading and watching films…my ideal day in the city begins with a bath, I try to meditate though I am not very good at it, I have breakfast, and I like to start every day by sending an e-mail that helps someone else, maybe it is making an introduction, or just sending a nice note, something that does not benefit me at all. Then I’ll have a few meetings, I practice yoga, and maybe I have a friend for dinner or go out to a party.…I like to finish the evening reading and catching up on e-mails.
WWD: In which room do you tend to spend the most amount of time?
D.V.F.: My office, because I work there and I have meetings there. I have friends for lunch and dinner there, and my studio in Connecticut, where I tend to reconnect with myself.
WWD: What are some of your favorite pieces of art? When you look at ones that were personal gifts, are you taken by the art or reminded of the person?
D.V.F.: Oh, so much of my art is so personal that it is difficult to choose favorites, but I love the masters like Rembrandt, Goya, Botticelli. My spring collection is inspired by Matisse and Picasso, but I also love my contemporaries, [Andy] Warhol, [Francesco] Clemente, Damien Hirst, [Andreas] Gursky. And I appreciate the art that I own as art, of course, but I am always reminded of the artist, which is what makes it so special.
WWD: What makes an artist exceptional?
D.V.F.: Emotion, emotion…a point of view…a different way of seeing…a strong sense of who they are and what they are trying to express.
WWD: What might people be surprised to learn about you? Do you have many hidden talents?
D.V.F.: Well, I tend to be an open book! It is not the most exciting or juicy detail, but maybe they would be surprised that I waste a lot of time playing solitaire and Scrabble on my iPad…no, I think because I am always telling women to be confident and to be the woman they want to be, people tend to be surprised when I admit that I have moments of doubts and insecurity. We all do. The idea is to recognize when it happens and move past it…
WWD: For a casual dinner with friends, what type of meal, flowers, music and decor do you prefer?
D.V.F.: Whatever is most effortless. I like simple, healthy and delicious food so that the focus is on the company. My chef, Jane, is fabulous and she has mastered the art of ease, which is so important. For flowers, I love large blooms like peonies and a lot of color, but nothing too structured or forced. The same goes for music and decor…everything should reflect who you are.
WWD: Contradictory as this might sound, which of your homes do you feel the most at home in and why?
D.V.F.: Really, I am a nomad and I feel very comfortable everywhere. I never sleep in the same place more than a few nights in a row. But if I had to choose on place, I would say my home in Connecticut, Cloudwalk. I bought it for myself on my 27th birthday and for a long time it was my source of sanity. It was such a wonderful escape and the perfect place to raise my children. Now, it is where I go to find myself and to find clarity, to be with family, to slow down, all of those things. I knew the second I saw it, that for me it would be that place.
WWD: How do you like to celebrate your birthdays? Your anniversaries?
D.V.F.: My birthday is New Year’s Eve, so there is always a celebration. We are usually traveling with family and we celebrate wherever we are. Because it is the last day of the year, I like to take inventory and write my New Year’s resolutions. My anniversary is Barry’s birthday, so it is more about him than us. I guess every day is our anniversary!
WWD: What have been your three favorite trips?
D.V.F.: A trip driving through Uzbekistan, my week hiking in Bhutan, sailing around the world on my boat EOS — those are my favorite trips!
WWD: What is your favorite belonging? Family heirloom? Article of clothing? Mode of transportation? Is there anything you can’t live without?
D.V.F.: My good luck charm is a coin my father gave me from the war. I tape it to the bottom of my shoe for every fashion show. My favorite articles of clothing are the cotton kurtas I sleep in. My favorite mode of transportation is walking. And I couldn’t live without my family.
WWD: How did you decide on the color of your car?
D.V.F.: Because to me my car represents going home to Connecticut, I have always chose the color green. Green for the trees and the grass!
WWD: At the end of an exhausting or difficult day, how do you find relief?
D.V.F.: I think of all of the things I am grateful for…my family, my health, my business, my friends…and I try to focus on that and breathe.
WWD: Had you not gone into fashion, what type of job would you have done?
D.V.F.: I think I would have loved to be a director, but now my daughter [Tatiana] is the filmmaker in the family.
WWD: Which author do you most relate to? What books changed the way you look at life?
D.V.F.: Stefan Zweig, [Leo] Tolstoy, Orhan Pamuk.…I love to read biographies.
WWD: Who do you consider to be the three most influential women in your life? In the world?
D.V.F.: My mother was very influential in my life. She was strong and she taught me to be independent, to be willing to take risks, and those lessons have been so important in my life. Gloria Steinem and Diana Vreeland [had] a huge influence on my life as a young woman. And to me, the most influential women in the world are those who take the time to empower other women…investing in women is one of the most powerful ways to transform the world. I have met so many women through Vital Voices and the DVF Awards, amazing women who are quietly changing the world and bettering the lives of others.
WWD: What do you think of bucket lists? If you have one, what is near the top?
D.V.F.: That is a difficult one…many, many projects.
WWD: What’s the best part about living in New York? The worst?
D.V.F.: The energy — New York is full of possibility. It always feels as if anything could happen and that is so exciting to me. The worst is that it can be hard to slow down and find clarity.
WWD: What are your words to live by?
D.V.F.: “Fear is not an option.” And of course, “Love is life!”
WWD: If the adage that “you are only truly yourself when no one else is near” is true, what scenario might best describe you?
D.V.F.: I think that being true to yourself is the most important thing. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Everything else follows from that.