“I am inspired to see what all the fuss is about these wrap dresses she makes that are all the rage. I try one on and I feel like I’m meeting myself for the first time.”

This is a quote from my memoir, Alive in the Sunshine, and it’s from a chapter I called, A Jittery Master Path. In it I explore an empowering period of my life, one that included what I called “dressing for the life I wanted.”

All of this came back to me as I watched the new documentary titled Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge.

I find her electrifying. The presence, the confidence, the determination. Party girl and jetsetter, designer and activist, matriarch of a fashion empire and daughter of an Auschwitz survivor. Her mother was 49 pounds when she was liberated during the Holocaust and taught Diane there was no room for fear in life.

Maybe it’s that we’re both Capricorns with an affinity for Man Ray’s famous Lips, but something in von Furstenberg’s energy, and subsequently her designs, just lights me up. It was her purchase of a dilapidated plot in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and how she led the resurgence of that area with media mogul husband Barry Diller that escalated my – let’s call it what it is — obsession.

Look at the wrap dress, an art form. Not overtly sexy, but crafted in a way that the true essence of the woman can’t help but emerge. It’s not sheer. It provides full coverage. Its appeal is almost inexplicable until you try it on. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, I had no idea I could look like this. Feel like this. No way was I leaving that dress in the store.

As I watched the movie, I got a refresher (I read her autobiography) on some things, but also experienced it differently, visually. Her marriage to a gay prince, the father of her children, who later died of AIDS. Her own fluid sexuality and the contrast to my own Catholic upbringing and uptight views on sex.

I was fascinated that she’d slept with Ryan O’Neal and Warren Beatty in the same weekend. “Did I seduce him? Yes,” she says of the former. And then there was Richard Gere. The whole Studio 54 scene was hot. When approached by Mick Jagger and David Bowie for a threesome, she thought it would be something to tell the grandchildren, but wound up not going through with it.

Oh my. Can’t in a million years imagine my own female relatives thinking this way. Hence my fascination.

Then of course there are her surges, dips, and returns to the fashion scene. Via QVC, of all places! A bout with cancer that she met head on. Love of family around her. She kept going — the businesswoman and philanthropist, the godmother of the Meatpacking District, the creator of the sought-after wrap dress that made a second big splash.

Diane von Furstenberg is a champion of women who teaches them that vulnerability is powerful. So is being the best woman you can be. Somehow all of it emanates from the clothes.

A week after buying that wrap dress, I found myself in front of a room in Midtown, interviewing a cast member of The Real Housewives of New York before an audience. A woman came up to me afterwards, complimented my dress, and asked if it was a DVF.

“Yes,” I said, grinning.

My smile didn’t come from a place of status associated with a label so much as something else harder to define. A feeling, my own radiance, realized potential.

The woman is magic, I tell you.

[Editorial Note: This is my 26th installment in a series I began in order to give my writing some flow after being in a healing phase from knee surgeries for a year (2023-24).]

(Photo by Doug Ellis Photography)