Diane Von Furstenburg sponsored a Facebook promotion with a prize of $3,000 worth of clothing from her fall line the – Nomad Collection. I was the lucky winner! So the reason I have not updated my blog recently is because I am racking my brain to see how far I can stretch $3,000 worth of DVF clothing. Plus the contest limits me to buying one item from each category – so I can’t spend it all on my passion for shoes!
Do I buy something practical like leather pants or get something I would never, ever buy for myself like a $950 pompom purse that is not even made of leather? Do I share my good fortune with my mom or do I spend it all on me? Thank goodness DVF does not make men’s clothes or my husband would surely try to wrangle something for himself.
The tagline for this collection is “Nomad – wherever she goes, she belongs” has a special significance for me. In my line of work – selling mannequins in the SF Bay Area – I meet all kinds of people of all ages, ethnic groups, sexual orientations and economic levels. So I have to adopt to my “changing landscape” of customers – just like a nomad! Sometimes I feel like I am traveling around the world without ever leaving the Bay Area.
I like to read books about successful entrepreneurs to encourage me when I am frustrated from all the challenges of being a small business owner. A few years ago, I read Diane Von Furstenburg’s biography – A Signature Life and gained a new respect for her. Intially I thought she was just a pretty, high society girl who married a wealthy European prince. This marriage gave her access to opportunities and exposure that other, far more talented designers could only dream of. However I realized that she was extremely talented and hard-working and would have been successful even if she had not married a prince.
Here are five reasons why I like DVF.
1 She wears her own designs. Nothing like a woman to understand what only looks good AND feels good on a woman’s body. While there are tons of men who design clothing for women, when was the last time we saw a successful line of men’s clothing designed by a woman? Sexism is rampant in the fashion industry. There are so few women designers who have made it to the upper ranks of the fashion hierarchy. The three D’s – Diane, Donna Karan and Donatella Versace are the most prominent, but there should be many, many more in this billion dollar industry
2 She reinvented herself, again and again. She could have just been a society wife but instead chose to have a career. (There are many days when I wish I could be a rich housewife and instead of being an entrepreneur). Despite the huge success of the wrap dress, her fashion business eventually failed. She then launched a successful cosmetics line but had to close that too (referred to as a “hiatus from fashion” on her website) So she had not one, but TWO business failures. Yet she got back into the saddle again and now her business is more successful than ever.
3 I like her politics. If you visit her website you will discover that the company is involved in many humanitarian efforts that support women in developing countries. (If I could only convince the company to let Mannequin Madness recycle their unwanted mannequins, all would be well in my world!)
I also like her politics as it relates to the fashion industry. She is the current president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and is known to be supportive of young designers. Also on the numerous times she has been a judge on Project Runway, her feedback is contructive, not catty or vapid like some of the other guest judges. She has allowed visual merchandising students to design her windows in her NYC flagship store. (I have an eguide coming out later this year about how to create sensational retail window displays and it includes photos from her stores)
4 Her runway shows feature a diversity of models ….. ethnic diversity that is. All the models are tall, thin and young. Fortunately her actual clothing are flattering (and forgiving) to a wide range of body types and she even goes up to a size 14 on her website. Perhaps one day she will do something pioneering like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and feature real women with curves in her runway shows. (Diane, if you are reading this, I am available!)
5 She was a fashion outsider and wasn’t taken seriously at first, but didn’t give up. Her savvy marketing made her a force they could not ignore. In my world of mannequins most of the major players are gay, white men (not unlike the fashion industry) and they certainly did not take a forty-something black woman sporting dreadlocs from Oakland, Ca seriously when I got started. Fortunately I was able to harness the power of the internet to grant me access to places and people that would not have been possible for me otherwise.
That’s all for now, gone shopping!