POWERFUL WOMEN: “To receive this honor from you is as much an honor as the honor itself,” Diane von Fürstenberg said as Christine Lagarde declared her a Chevalier of France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor.
A former French minister who was number two in Forbes’ “World’s Most Powerful Women” ranking for 2019, Lagarde was the first woman to have ever been managing director of the International Monetary Fund and, as of November 2019, is the first female president of the European Central Bank.
The ceremony, held at France’s Ministry of Foreign affairs in Paris on Friday, was an ode to feminine power. Lagarde praised von Fürstenberg’s career as a fashion designer, her involvement for women’s rights and her actions as part of the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, which the designer joined in 2016.
“I want to thank Lady Liberty, the symbol of friendship between France and America,” said von Fürstenberg as she accepted the honor. “I want to salute what the Statue of Liberty represents: freedom and hope. We need to remember that it was initially named ‘Liberty Enlightening The World,’ and God knows we need it today.”
Guests, including the designer’s son Alexander von Fürstenberg and grandchildren Tassilo and Talita von Fürstenberg, clapped enthusiastically at her empowering speech.
The fashion and luxury world also came out in droves to celebrate the designer’s career. “Diane is my fiancée’s symbolic godmother, so she has a real importance for me and my family,” said Antoine Arnault, head of communications and image at luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, gesturing to his future wife, model Natalia Vodianova.
“She is a very active and creative person, both intelligent and well-intentioned, so I think this honor is more than merited,” he continued.
Betty Catroux was reminiscing about her long history with von Fürstenberg. “She’s my husband’s best friend, so mine as well,” said the former model, who is the subject of the Yves Saint Laurent museum’s latest exhibition. “We’ve basically spent our life together. She is an extraordinary role model for women.”
Despite having walked for the designer in the past, Inès de la Fressange’s favorite memories of von Fürstenberg aren’t work-related.
“The moments I remember the most are moments of friendship,” she said. “I remember her apartment in Paris, which was filled with intellectuals and writers. The conversations were always fascinating, but most of all filled with joy. Diane really is a woman of exceptional energy.”