Diane von Furstenberg is a woman of experience. That experience has taught her that life is often unpredictable and that when the unexpected happens, you accept and adjust. Nathan Jenden, the company’s chief design officer, took a medical leave in the middle of the spring design process. Concern for Jenden? Of course. Panic for the collection? Never.
Rather, DVF stepped in and took over — while giving full credit. During a showroom appointment, she opened a vast accordion notebook in which Jenden had sketched countless designs, and noted that he also completed oversight of the print-design process. And she introduced this season’s muse, her granddaughter Talita von Furstenberg, a sophomore at Georgetown who consulted on the collection and modeled for its marketing materials, and who may have designs on taking over the company one day.
If so, she has quite a mentor. This collection is called “Pioneer” — Jenden’s idea. But as for pioneer-gal references of the calico-and-sunbonnet sort — not a chance. “What everybody is now claiming in marketing is what I’ve done all my life,” von Furstenberg said, not immodestly, but merely matter-of-factly. “I was always saying, ‘Be the woman you want to be.’ I was always a feminist. Now, ever since #MeToo, everybody’s getting into it. But here, we’ve always done it. So that’s why you say, ‘Well then, we may as well own it. Be in charge.’”
And if the visual manifestation of taking charge the DVF way is a wrap dress, who can argue with its transcendent, empowering appeal? In her tightly edited lineup, von Furstenberg showed two, a close variant of the original and her “new” wrap, with attached capelet, both radiating that house standard ethos of sensual practicality. The rest of the lineup was comprised of pretty, mostly printed dresses, including one that was actually two pieces, a dress under a wrap skirt, which, in the interest of stretching a working woman’s cash, can also be worn as a halter dress. Von Furstenberg inserted a lone tailored look into the mix, a double-breasted blazer atop trousers cut with all of the fluidity of one of her famous dresses.
“It’s about taking back femininity in a powerful way, in a strong way,” offered chief executive officer Sandra Campos, who assumed her post four months ago.
Responded von Furstenberg, “Feminine and feminist.” Who could argue?