Review of Diane Von Frustenberg in conversation with Tina Brown
by: Caroline McCauley
On October 30, 2014 Barnes & Noble in Union Square hosted Diane Von Frustenberg in conversation with Tina Brown. This conversation is one of Barnes & Noble’s author events. Recently, Lena Dunham had her first reading of her new memoir Not that Kind of Girl at the same location. The talk promoted both Diane Von Frustenberg’s new memoir The Woman I Wanted to Be along with the tome Journey of a Dress.
The designer appeared in an oversized double lapel menswear coat with black and white swirls. She briefly posed for a photo in front of a Barnes & Noble banner. Before going on stage, Diane revealed a subdued black and white snack print quarter length sleeve dress and several gold bracelets stacked on her tiny wrists. Shockingly, the causal, daytime dress was not the type of dress that brought Dianne fame and came to define her career. Though the designer wasn’t donning the legendary wrap dress, she did refer to the classic, sexy dress that every woman should own (a point she emphasized during the conversation).
When asked the question of what piece of clothing must a woman have in her closet Dianne answered “a wrap dress of course.” She finished the question with her rehearsed reasoning of it is “simple enough, sexy enough.” Dianne claims it’s the perfect dress in which “the woman gets to keep the man, and the mother doesn’t mind.”
While the wrap dress plays a large role in what Dianne called the beautiful coffee table book Journey of a Dress, it isn’t even allotted its own chapter in her memoir The Woman I Wanted to Become. The memoir, which the conversation was shaped around, is divided into two parts: THE WOMAN I AM and THE BUSINESS OF FASHION. Within the first part are chapters such as “Roots” and “Love,” while the second part consists of titles such as “The American Dream” and “The Comeback Kid.” When describing her writing process with, Dianne commented that she divided it into “the many scenes” of her life.
While it appears that the designer drew a clear distinction between her life before and after fashion in her memoir, the conversation was mostly shaped around the more intimate, personal parts of her life. Tina began the conversation by probing into the relationship Dianne had with her mother. Dianne spent a great amount of time describing her mother and how she made her the woman she is today. When speaking about her “tiger” mom, who was a holocaust survivor, Dianne spoje of her mother’s strength and resilience. Dianne said that her mother taught her that “fear was not an option.”
The designer ended the conversation with saying that she is continually inspired by the strength of women. The famous woman, who coined the phrase “Feel like a woman, wear a dress” and sought to provide women with confidence through her designs, wrapped the conversation up by urging for more women to showcase, rather than hide their inner strength. It looks like a greater force than the wrap dress is needed to give women the confidence to embrace their inner strength.