Ballpark Estimate: $265 to $900 (most in the $365 to $695 range)
Wouldn’t you love to have one item in your closet that works for all occasions and when you slip it on, makes you look and feel sensational? That’s the premise of the Diane Von Furstenberg (also known as DVF) wrap dress. This statement piece, which was first introduced to American women in the 1970s, flatters a wide range of body types and three decades later continues to have long-lasting appeal for women of ages.
Beauty and Versatility
Today, Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap-style dress hangs in the Smithsonian Institute as a testimony of a fashion idea that has transformed the way women think and feel about clothing. When the dress first came into being thirty years ago, it allowed women to embrace their feminine side while still looking polished and professional. The dress accomplished this tricky mix by clothing the body in soft jersey folds that hug the body in all of the right places. The plunging neckline offers a hint of cleavage, while the wrap style tie accents the waist and the curve of the hip. Better yet, fans say that the wrap dress is very easy to put on and comfortable to wear, making it possible for women to dress up without feeling too formal or constricted.
While Diane Von Furstenberg didn’t actually invent the wrap dress – its form is actually the basis of the toga and the kimono – fashion historians do credit her for reinventing it to make it work for modern women who were juggling families and career with little time to focus on themselves, but who still wanted to look polished and well dressed.
When her unique version of this style was first launched in the mid 70s, it did indeed seem to fill a need for women everywhere. The best testament to this fact was the record sales that occurred. In fact, to the surprise of the fashion industry, as well as to Diane Von Furstenberg herself, she sold an impressive five million dresses in just five years.
One Dress Fits All
One particularly appealing feature of the wrap dress, according to fashion experts, is the fact that it can work for numerous occasions. They say that with boots or pumps and a scarf, it is perfect for the office. Add your highest strappy heeled sandals and dangling earrings and you are ready for cocktails. For a day of shopping or running errands, simply opt for ballet flats or flip flops and a tank top underneath. For a completely modern update, some stylists suggest that the wrap dress also looks great on the weekends layered over leggings or jeans.
A Royal Heritage
Diane Von Furstenberg (whose maiden name is Diane Simon Michelle Halfin) was born in Brussels in 1946. Unlike many other fashion designers of her rank, she didn’t have fashion deeply embedded in her blood from a very early age. In fact, she attended university in Switzerland for economics, which is where she is said to have met Prince Egon of Furstenberg, whom she later married. This earned her the title of Princess Diane of Furstenberg. The couple moved to New York City and had two children before divorcing after several years of marriage.
Since then, Furstenberg has remarried, becoming the wife of media mogul Barry Diller. Her very publicized marriages, as well as a wide variety of charity work she does on a regular basis and guest appearances on the popular reality television show Project Runway, keep this well-known designer and socialite very much in the public eye.
She has received much recognition for her accomplishments, including the lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2005. She has also been granted the Award of Excellence from the International Center in New York City, among other recent honors.
End of an Era?
While the famous wrap dress enjoyed much success in the 70s, Diane Von Furstenberg eventually decided that she had done all she could with this style, and in the 80s eventually turned her attention away from fashion to focus on a handful of other interests and to travel. However, older females continued to wear her styles and many young women looked to her vintage items as well to claim this classic look in their own, allowing the style to live on in new ways.
Even Better the Second Time Around
In the 1990s, Diane Von Furstenberg debuted a new line of silk separates for QVC, the popular phone and internet shopping network. In two hours, she had sold $1.3 million’s worth of merchandise, illustrating the interest in her clothes that still remained.
Soon after, she and her daughter-in-law updated her original wrap dress design, making it more modern with shorter skirts and fresh patterns and detailing. Saks Fifth Avenue agreed to stock the new line, and women quickly flocked to the racks, eager for updated versions of their favorite style. The latest collections also offer mix-and-match options, with different pieces coordinating together to create many new and easy-to-wear looks.
Other DVF Offerings
In addition to the famous wrap dress, the Diane Von Furstenberg brand also offers a variety of other products, including swimwear, coats, cocktail and casual dresses, cosmetics, shoes, jewelry, luggage and even rugs.
In addition, there is a rumor circulating that the designer is collaborating on a new line of clothing whose patterns will be inspired by comic book icons. Further, she is said to be collaborating with DC Comics, the publishers of Wonder Woman, to create her own cartoon strip that will offer inspirational messages for women. (The main Wonder Woman character will be based on herself.) The proceeds from this project are expected to go to a women’s charity called Vital Voices.
Many socialites and celebrities regularly wear Diane Von Furstenberg clothing. Some of the best known names at her recent runway shoe included Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lopez, Leighton Meester and Eva Longoria. But while her styles are indeed popular with some of the best dressed crowd, fashion writers tout the fact that her clothing is also very accessible for “regular” women as well, bridging the fine line between every day style and luxury wear.
Where to Buy
You can shop for Diane Von Furstenberg’s latest lines on her website, or you can also visit one of the many DVF boutiques (there were more than two dozen at last count), which are located in the U.S. and also worldwide. In addition, many better department store and specialty shops carry pieces from her collections, making them very accessible. You can also find her items sold on ebay. Just keep in mind that many counterfeits exist of her styles, so educate yourself on the details that the originals feature to be sure you are getting what you are paying for when you order an original online.
What It Costs
Women who invest in Diane Von Furstenberg dresses usually say that they consider these to be an investment since they have a classic shape and style that will be a wardrobe staple for a long time. Many point out that this fact helps to offset the expense, since the dresses don’t come cheap. The average prices are between $365 and go up to about $695 for the current styles, with lower and higher options available You can also often find these on sale at the end of the season in department stores, boutiques and on the brand’s own website. In addition, older styles can be had on ebay or in resale shops for less if you get lucky. Just keep in mind that many vintage DVF dresses can actually cost more than a new one, so these dresses are indeed an actual investment in some cases. In addition to the original wrap dress style, Diane Von Furstenberg also offers many other dress styles these days. One of the less expensive options in her latest line is a deep blue short dress that sells for $265. Or, on the higher end, you can find a very crisp red and white ribbon-dress featuring a silk top and chiffon skirt that sells for $895. A red sequined wrap dress custom designed by Diane Von Furstenberg for Kelly Rippa to wear to Fashion Week in 2007 for a fundraiser called The Red Dress sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s campaign The Heart Truth sold at auction for $900.
So you can expect to spend between about $265 to $900 for a DVF dress, depending on the style, fabric and cut.
In addition, you can find an array of different coat styles to pair with your DVF dress. A long suede topper with a very modern trapeze silhouette sells for $895, while a crisp nautical-inspired coat with yellow and white rugby stripes retails for $1,200.
A Fresh Alternative
Some critics feel that despite the widespread popularity of the wrap dress, the cut and fabrics are old news and not modern enough for today’s fashion forward woman. If you like the style but don’t feel the dress suits your fashion taste or just isn’t covered up enough for you to move around comfortably without fear of it opening (since it closes with just one tie), there is a fresh alternative to consider: the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap blouse. This is a versatile option and costs less, too. You can likely find one for under $300.
If all of these options are out of your price league, keep in mind that you can find many DVF-inspired wrap blouses and dresses for a lot less at contemporary and off-price stores. While they won’t have the fine fabric and cut of an original DVF wrap, they will give the same silhouette. When worn with high-quality shoes, jewelry and a dose of confidence, only an avid DVF collector will know the difference.