At age 21, she came to America from Europe with a dream — one that she eventually accomplished through designing the iconic dresses, a symbol of female empowerment that’s helped her become a household name. Today, the brand’s clothing is carried in more than 55 countries, and von Furstenberg is the chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do originally, but I knew the kind of woman that I wanted to be, which is independent,” the 69-year-old von Furstenberg said. “I became the woman I wanted to be through my dresses.”
In 1970, she designed her first dress, which was created at a friend’s textile factory in Italy. Four years later, von Furstenberg launched the wrap dresses that would make her famous and enable her to live the “true American dream.”
They swiftly propelled her into the spotlight, which she admits she was not “really equipped” to handle yet. By 1976, her company had sold more than a million of the dresses.
After taking a step back from the fashion industry in 1985, she relaunched her wrap dress collection in 1997.
Her focus now is on building her legacy. She is using her fashion empire, mentoring and philanthropy to communicate to other women that they can be who they want to be.
Regarding success, she stressed the importance of persevering and believing in what you do.
“If you don’t believe it, no one else will.”