14 Questions With the Legendary Diane von Furstenberg
As Diane von Furstenberg releases a new book, Own It: The Secret to Life, the celebrated fashion designer takes the time to answer AnOther’s series of quick-fire questions.
When talking to Diane von Furstenberg over the phone, as incredibly cliche as it might sound, you can almost feel her warm personality radiating over the speaker. Calling from her home in Connecticut, where she has just woken up, she explains that she hasn’t seen the list of 50 questions that I’m about to ask her. “I prefer not to know what I’m going to be asked before an interview,” she says.
Such confidence, without arrogance or pretence, is one of the defining characteristics of the septuagenarian fashion designer – a trait that she attributes to her mother, a survivor of the Holocaust. And, from the life that Von Furstenberg has lived – which includes marrying a German prince, being painted by Andy Warhol, frequenting Studio 54 during its heyday, and becoming synonymous with one the most recognisable garments in fashion history, the wrap dress – it’s one that has been enjoyed to its fullest, thanks to her unwavering sense of self.
How are you feeling today?
Today I am feeling ... Clear.
What were you doing right before this interview?
I was talking to my daughter who had her 50th birthday yesterday. She’s in LA and she was telling me about a film that everyone in her life made for her. And I was also doing a jigsaw puzzle on my iPad.
What are you wearing today?
Right now I’m still wearing what I sleep in.
What is your first memory of working in the fashion industry?
When I worked for a photographer’s agent in Paris. He was very successful and he represented everyone from David Bailey to ... well, everyone! My role was to answer the phone and tell everyone that he wasn’t there – to the people that he owed money to, and also the girls he had slept with!
How did you meet Andy Warhol?
I don’t quite remember. I met him when I first moved to New York. If you went out in New York it was impossible not to meet him. Of course, he became a friend.
What is your favourite memory from a night at Studio 54?
Studio 54 was the best pick-up spot you’ve ever, ever been to. And the most wonderful thing about it was the entrance: because first of all, it was tough to get in. You had to look the right way. Once you got in, there was this big long corridor with big mirrors on either side and disco music ... So I would say that Studio 54 was very much about the entrance, and the people you met.
Is there anything you miss about the 1970s?
No, no. But I will say that to be young in the 1970s was a great time to be young. Because everything was inexpensive; New York was dangerous and cheap. So, as a result, there were lots of young talented people. It was not a bunch of rich people. Also, we thought we had invented freedom. It was a time between the discovery of the pill, and Aids. So it was a carefree time.
What is your favourite piece of music?
I like all blues music.
What is a book you could read over and over again?
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
What is your favourite film?
I have a few. But I would say All About Eve and A Clockwork Orange.
What does ‘beauty’ mean to you?
So beauty to me is embracing your imperfections so they become your assets.
What is your life motto?
Love is life; fear is not an option.
What motivates you?
That life is so short. I think very early in life I realised that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Once you have that, any relationship is a plus and not a must. I really think that at all costs we cannot be needy. To be needy is a no-no.
What keeps you grounded?