Dear Ms. von Furstenberg —
I have said this before, in print and otherwise, and it bears repeating here. The first time I tried on one of your wrap dresses it was like I was meeting myself for the first time. When I looked in the mirror I was astounded. What was staring back at me was a vital, vibrant woman who is embracing all of herself. I was in my late 40s at the time.
Since then, I have acquired other DVF pieces – a tunic, a sweater, a scarf, jeans, and perhaps my favorite of all, a coat. I tend to dress high-low, mixing higher-end pieces with lower. When I go “high” it might be DVF, Phillip Lim or Catherine Malandrino. But here’s the thing. I don’t know anything about the latter two designers as people.
You are a different story. Your book is sitting on my shelf. I know your background, how you made a name for yourself, went away, came back. I’ve seen you speak in New York twice. I am aware of your philanthropic interests, enjoy the High Line you helped build and support, continue to marvel at how much time and energy you invest in women being their best selves.
As a professional coach I know something about that. It means something to me. I hate the word ‘brand’ but to me this is what signifies your brand. DVF might be a line of clothing and accessories, but Diane von Furstenberg represents the essence of a lifestyle. Creative. Whole. Savvy. Humane. Ambitious. Independent. Resilient. The best of who we are or strive to be.
And that brings me to your new television show on the E! network, House of DVF. Please, please tell me it’s going to get better. I was so excited to learn about it. I had high expectations. But about 15 minutes into the first episode I wondered if I’d have to stop watching just so I’d still respect your brand.
What in the world? You’ve got eight young women vying to be your Global Brand Ambassador – a pivotal job, am I right? – and in one hour of television I came away thinking how gossipy, lacking in personal responsibility, immature, and ill-equipped they seem for the task.
Who am I? A nobody in the fashion world, a woman who feels amazing in your clothes. At a time where the roles of women are under so much scrutiny, you are putting forth a clear vision of who they/we should be. This is about way more than fashion.
Reality TV has mostly become about seeing the very worst in women – triangulating, materialistic, competitive, insecure. I can’t stomach it and definitely don’t consider it entertainment. After watching the first episode of House of DVF, I felt like I was watching Real Housewives in training.
I know you want to reach the young demographic with this show. My 52-year-old self doesn’t fall in that range. I’m already in your corner and don’t need to be sold. But it worries me that this is what has to happen in a show to reach young women now, that it has to be mean and cutting. While I started to feel the show was being redeemed when you came on the scene and started meeting the candidates one on one in your office, your candor and pointed questions were met with finger-pointing answers or deflection of responsibility. It was disturbing.
You’ve turned a clear vision into a second coming, so to speak. Are you really considering being represented globally by someone who makes an interview into a “he said, she said” instead of a chance to ask herself how she could have done better? To boot, if these women do have character and inner strength, why isn’t the show giving us a taste of that?
Is this the E! (or Bravo) formula at work? Let’s gather a bunch of women and have them be nice to each other and then break them into smaller groups and watch them put down whoever isn’t in the room. We’ll do that over and over again, not only on one show but on spin-offs of that show. Some of them will be sisters or ‘besties’ and that will only add to the drama.
Please don’t go down that road. I know this is a self-serving request, but I really want to believe the woman who said “I wanted to be a certain kind of woman; I became that woman” has a line she won’t cross. Not even to woo the young fashionista wannabes.
I used to be a designer name dropper back when I was in that demographic and even wore knockoffs with glaring logos because I thought that made me somebody to others. Maybe it’s a rite of passage for many, but should it be for a person who wants to represent the lifestyle you embody? You need someone who already knows she’s a somebody and wears your clothes as a way to bring out her essential self.
I’m going to watch another episode and remain optimistic that it will reflect the true nature of what I’ve come to know as DVF.
You’ve let us in. I sure hope you’re going to wow us.