Thursday, 27 November 2014

Book Talk: Diane von Furstenberg on success and empowering women

(Reuters) - Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is known for turning her signature wrap dress into a fashion empire and in her memoir, “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” she describes how she did it.

Von Furstenberg, 67, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, married a prince and become an entrepreneur before her 30s. But success came at a price. Failed romances, health scares and the highs and lows of business marked a turbulent life.

Despite the obstacles, she became the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, founded the philanthropic DVF awards and has celebrated the 40th anniversary of her brand. 

Von Furstenberg spoke to Reuters about success, true beauty and her mission to empower young women.

Q: You write that your mother shaped the woman that you are. How did she inspire you?

A: She taught me to be independent and to never be a victim because fear is not an option. All of those things have a huge impact on you even if you don’t realize it, especially after you lose your mother.

Q: What has life taught you about success?

A: Success is like nature, everything keeps moving. I was incredibly successful and young and I lived a total American dream. That doesn’t mean that you can just sit because after success comes other things, like too much exposure and all of the many different things that can happen afterwards.

Q: How do you define beauty?

A: I think beauty is truth. John Keats said that “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” What I discovered in my life and writing this book is that my religion is to practice truth. It is sometimes painful. It is not always easy. It requires a lot of maintenance but it also avoids so many mistakes, compromises and misunderstandings.

Q: Why is female empowerment important to you? 

A: Every woman inspires another woman. When working on my book, I kept on saying, "Why am I doing this? Is this just an ego trip?" But actually you have to be careful with what you say because what you say, I found can really help somebody.

Q: What can people take from your story?

A: Everyone can be the woman they want to be. I have two granddaughters and I always tell them before they go to sleep to be thankful and then think about the woman you want to become.

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