Diane von Furstenberg launched season two of “The Atelier with Alina Cho” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Wednesday night. During the hour-long Q&A, which opened with remarks from soon-to-retire curator of the Met’s Costume Institute Harold Koda, the designer and chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America revealed the depths of her wit and mischievous humor.

“My mother was the kind of woman who would give advice to everyone and always had the most amazing quotes,” von Furstenberg said at one point. “It was always so annoying for me, and as a result of that, I am exactly the same.”

In the conversation with Cho, von Furstenberg reflected on her youth; the highs and lows of her signature business, founded in 1970 — including, of course, the wrap dress, which catapulted her career, landing her the cover of Newsweek in 1976, and finally her recent memoir, legacy and message of female empowerment. Here, some highlights:

On the strength of her mother Liliane, who spent 13 months in a Nazi concentration camp: “When [my mother] got out of the camps, she weighed 49 pounds. But she didn’t die. She survived. She went back to Belgium, back to her mother, and her mother fed her like a little bird….The doctor said to her, ‘You can get married, but you absolutely cannot have a child for at least three to five years, because you won’t survive and your child will not be normal.’ Well, nine months later I was born, and I was not normal.”

On the lessons she learned from her mother: “The most important thing my mother taught me was that fear was not an option. She would never allow me to be afraid of anything. If I said I was afraid of the dark, she would lock me in a dark closet for 10 minutes. It was not politically correct, but it worked….She was kind of a tiger mom. She really gave me my strength.”

On finding out she was pregnant with Egon von Furstenberg’s baby at 22: “I said, ‘This can’t be.’ The most important thing to me as a young girl was to be independent. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be….And then all of a sudden, I’m pregnant with [the baby] of the best catch in Europe. And nobody was ever going to believe that I didn’t do it on purpose.”

On moving to New York at 22: “I arrived in New York with my dreams and my suitcases. Between the ages of 22 and 28 or 29, I had two children; moved to America; started a business; had a huge success [and lived] the American dream, and got separated. All of that in about seven years….Anything I did after that was a repetition.”

On her lifestyle during the heyday of Studio 54: “[Egon and I] were an uptown ‘It’ couple: good-looking, invited everywhere, going everywhere….It was like: three cocktail parties, one dinner, three gay bars. It was actually fun…I would have a work day, and then [I’d go home] to the children, and then everybody would go to bed and then I would go out. I loved the idea of putting on my boots, driving my car, parking right next to Studio 54, feeling like a cowboy. I loved the idea of walking in there alone. Of course, I was always meeting friends. But walking in alone, I felt like a cowboy walking into a saloon. One of my fantasies as a young girl was always to have a man’s life in a woman’s body.”

On dating high-profile men, such as Richard Gere and Warren Beatty: “They are sweet and they stayed my friends.”

On the rise and fall of the wrap dress: “I lived this American dream, started from nothing, and then it was — wow. It got crazy….My factory wanted me to make more and more of the same wrap dresses… And I would say, ‘How many more can we have?’ I wanted to extend to other [categories], but they wouldn’t let me. Then one day, it was saturated.”

On the decline and eventual sale of her business in the early Eighties: “I sold everything in ’83, about 13 years after I started. By then, I thought I was finished with business. My children were teenagers by then, and when your kids are teenagers, you love them but you don’t like them, so they went to boarding school and I went to Paris….I thought fashion was finished for me. I did other things.”

On the relaunch of her business in the Nineties: “I saw that the young ‘It’ girls were buying wrap dresses in vintage shops. I was 50, but I thought I was 25. I got a bunch of young girls together and we just did it again….The first time around, I launched the business for financial reasons, to be independent. The second time around, I wanted to prove to myself and the world that the first time was not an accident.”

On her legacy: “I became an independent woman through fashion….And I did it for myself, but now I preach it for others. I’m very lucky that whether through philanthropy, mentoring, or my work, it’s all under the same umbrella. If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it’s as a woman who told other women that they can be the woman they want to be.”

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