Vintage von Furstenberg (or One Dress’ Odyssey to Become Mine)

When my cousin Alicia took me shopping at her favorite high-end vintage store I never thought I’d end up owning a piece of fashion history.

Fall 2003 005 Runway

Enter Rie – a flirty silk chiffon dress designed by the grande dame of fashion herself, Diane von Furstenberg.

I knew I had to have it the moment I saw it smushed on the rack in between a slightly over-worn Calvin Klein wool blend shift dress with leather trim, and a gently used red silk Celine number. I tried it on and bought it right away even though it was too big. I didn’t care because it spoke to me in a sweet and friendly voice. “Let’s be friends,” it begged. “Please take me home.” And so I happily agreed as it was the perfect antidote to my mid-winter blues. This dress is now part of my “Vintage Wears” collection – a phrase I use to describe clothing and accessories created in the past that are still relevant today.

 

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After doing some research which included a brief email exchange with the DVF archivist (who knew?!) I learned that the dress is from the fall 2003 runway collection. Its bold and colorful print was created to honor the tastes of Diane’s first husband Prince Egon von Furstenberg, who was also a designer, interior decorator and author. And even though they divorced in 1972 only a few years after they married, they remained close confidants and collaborators until his death in 2004. It is no surprise, that Egon was the one who initially backed Diane financially and emotionally, and pushed her to create her own fashion house where she designed and sold her first iconic wrap dresses, which went on to change the course of fashion history.

And yet, the “wrap heard ’round the world’ was never a silhouette for this short, athletic girl with few curves and even less of an hour-glass shape. I never thought a Diane von Furstenberg piece would find its way into my life and wardrobe until that fateful afternoon last winter. This experience reminded me that when we curate our lives by surrounding ourselves with people and objects and scenery from whom and which we learn and grow and change, sometimes those objects choose us. And if we’re lucky enough to hear their call, the journey to do so can be surprising and fun. I like how my mother use to say it, “You never know in this life Cookie, you just never know.”

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