While in LA last week I indulged in a little nostalgia. I went to see the newly opened Diane von Furstenberg exhibition at LACMA. Her iconic wrap dress has been memorialized at 40 with the exhibit, THE JOURNEY of a DRESS. While it is indeed a celebration of the evolution of a dress, it is also a tribute to the designer herself, with paintings and photographs of her distinctive beauty and glamorous life.
A little trivia about the wrap dress. DVF says its design was based on the skimpy wrap tops and matching skirts worn by ballerinas. She reinterpreted this simple form into a dress with bold prints on jersey fabric. The fabric molded to the body and gave the dress and the body a sense of movement.
Forty years ago, this modern, elegant, sophisticated and powerful dress profile created a revolution. Of course, there have been slight modifications to the design since its creation; a wider or narrower triple wrap band on the waist, long or short sleeves, and slight changes to the fabric (the original “drip-dry” polyester is now a finer jersey). The retrospective offers a fresh approach to seeing and experiencing a dress that influenced a generation of women.
DVF’s motto “Feel like a woman, wear a dress!” is a central theme; the vivid colors and the practical and comfortable fit easily transitioned from office to dinner at a time when many women were entering the work force. My own memories of my DVF dresses are clear–I can see my 1974 self looking professional, skinny and young heading off to work with confidence. I wore prints and more color then and felt ever so stylish. Thank you, Diane!
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