Keeping it in the family — actual and ‘adopted’ — Diane von Furstenberg has started a new passage in her long career.
Together in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District was the founder, her granddaughter Talita as new muse, and comeback kid Nathan Jenden. Jenden, the British-born designer who worked with DVF from 2001 to 2011, is once again in charge of fashion.
The result? A convincing rebranding of the label built on what Jenden planted during his previous period. There were no surprises — but also no shocks, meaning that this was a coherent return to what the brand stands for.
Into a half-circle of screens showing the clothes in motion stepped models in easy pieces created from lightweight patterned fabrics — a 21st-century vision of that famous body-conscious wrap dress founded 44 years ago.
While the designer had left to work in China and learn Mandarin, he retained his memories of the DVF dictates.
“He was 29 years old when he joined us and in 10 years the company sales went from $2 million to $250 million,” von Furstenberg said. ‘’He is Edward Scissorhands. I have never seen anyone like that at a fitting. He does everything with scissors and pins. Now he has come back saying things I had said that I thought he had not taken in — like ‘a DVF print is supposed to move’.”
On the ‘runway’ — a circular display space — were softer versions of the famous wrap dress, with one ankle-length version coming off to reveal a narrow evening creation underneath.
“And there is no difference between runway and life,” said von Furstenberg, meaning that what was shown would go on sale and that there is no alternative ‘commercial line’.
It was a wise move to have the designer talk through the outfits, explaining a new lightness to a familiar shape or how he had chosen to put pieces together.
“What is different is that there are attributes of being effortless and for every woman to be cross generational – more relevant than it ever was,” said Jenden. “Today DVF is more Instagrammable, more of the moment, embracing the Pop Art thing, the graphic, the cube, the vintage. It’s all ours.”
Smart too is the idea of making Talita von Furstenberg the muse, with Jenden describing “DVF and TVF as both inspirational women across generations”.
Talita recalled her ‘first memorable moment’ in fashion at nine years old when she worked with Jenden at the Pitti fashion fair in Florence.
Yellow chiffon, with waterfall ruffles, birds embroidered on a pleated silk dress and a green turtleneck sweater with a cube print were all chosen by Talita for a photo shoot.
This ‘keep it in the family’ spirit invaded the mini show — and the founder herself seemed the most pleased.
“When Nathan came to DVF, they were the biggest, most important, most productive of the brand’s second generation,” said the founder. “He was gone for seven years. And to have him back is just wonderful - like a second marriage. I did the same with my husband, you know - he left and then he came back better! Nathan is so into the brand. He knows so much. He chose Talita to be the muse and he understands of the brand so much.”
So, what is the essence of the brand? I asked its founder.
“Well I think the DVF woman is in charge,” she replied. “She is in charge of her life and she wants to be. The DVF brand is about giving her the tools to be the woman she wants to be.”