DIANE VON FURSTENBERG & THE WRAP DRESS

The wrap dress works for all body shapes, slinkily swathing in soft luscious fabric, then dramatically nipping in at the waist, around the breasts – loosely or more closely shaping and contouring the body in a svelte silhouette.

Diane von Furstenberg did not foresee the success of her wrap dress:

“I never dreamt that the simple dress I launched in 1974, a dress that was easy, sexy, elegant, and affordable all at the same time, would catapult me into fashion history.”
— Diane von Furstenberg, The Woman I Wanted To Be

Diane von Furstenberg wearing her wrap dress

Diane von Furstenberg wearing her wrap dress

The story of the dress begins in 1968, when twenty-two year old Diane went to Italy to shadow tycoon Angelo Ferretti. At his factory, she observed “knitted silk and high-quality mercerized cotton jersey fabric” being manufactured, learnt about which designs make good prints, and how to create a repeat pattern – in short, “everything about jersey” was grasped from Ferretti.

Whilst on a trip to New York, Diane noticed a gap – on the one end “high-fashion hippie clothes,” on the other “stale, double-knit dresses.” Returning to Feretti, excited and full of new thoughts, “an idea began to percolate” in her mind. She would make some dresses with the colourful, printed jersey fabric – dresses both sexy and easy to wear that might fill this gap.

At a fashion show in 1974 the wrap dress made its debut. There were snags along the way but Diane pushed ahead step by step, made lucky associations with talented associates and sales of the dresses rose dramatically establishing the wrap as the “it” dress and Diane as celebrity.

“Back then, my main goal was to be free and independent. I was constantly on the go. I loved being that woman high on her heels walking in and out of places like a tornado, taking planes as if they were buses, feeling pragmatic, engaged, and sexy. I loved the idea of being a young tycooness… I loved having a man’s life in a woman’s body.”
— Diane von Furstenberg, The Woman I Wanted To Be

DVF Fall 2013 campaign - Model Daria Werbowy styled by Carine Roitfeld and photographed by Sebastian Faena.

The Fall 2013 campaign “was evocative and gritty. Night in New York. A beautiful woman walking alone, confident, knowing where she is going, glancing behind her.“

“As a designer, Diane has always been more interested in the feelings inspired by clothes than in the technicalities of cut and fit. She knows that the true subject of fashion is romance—women in alluring outfits and the emotions they evoke. Sex was a big part of Diane’s life, and the force of her style came from the heat of sex flowing through it.”

Gioia Diliberto,   Diane von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped.

The story line then becomes curvy. A nose dive in the dress business in 1978 when the market was said to be saturated and Women’s Wear Daily pronounced the “end of a trend.” The dresses disappeared from production till the nineties when a surge of nostalgia for fashion of the seventies was felt. Approaching fifty, Diane was again doing well in business but felt a strong desire to revitalise her “signature brand.” On 9 September 1997 the jersey dresses were launched at Saks and took their place in the wardrobes of women and in the fashion cultural landscape.