Monday, October 22, 2012

The DVF show rolls into town

diane von furstenberg takes a bow after her SS12 show in NY via
If you don’t already know by now, frockwriter has little doubt you soon will be aware that New York fashion doyenne Diane von Furstenberg is visiting Australia this week. First up, to present her Spring/Summer 2013 collection at Westfield Sydney on Wednesday evening, not far from her first Australian boutique, which opened in the development in late 2010. Secondly, to talk at a Business Chicks lunch on Thursday. Tickets for the latter sold out in a  week reports Business Chicks, which had to upgrade to a bigger venue at Sydney's Doltone House to accommodate 650 people. And finally, on the weekend, to unveil The DVF Suite – a penthouse at the recently refurbed Hayman Island luxury resort, which was of course flattened by Cyclones Yasi and Anthony in early 2011.
As its name suggests, The DVF Suite has been kitted out by DVF – her latest hotel collab, after a series of customized suites at London’s Claridge’s hotel. 

With a cast of 18, which is pretty much the size of von Furstenberg's show in New York last month which unveiled the SS13 collection, Wednesday’s show is shaping up as one of the biggest international designer presentations to hit these shores, if not the biggest. 

It has to be said that even the designer’s visit itself is also unusual. Beyond the Bicentennial Wool Collection in 1988 - for which Bruce Oldfield, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Kenzo Takada, Claude Montana, Sonia Rykiel, Tai and Rosita Missoni and the late Gianni Versace and Jean Muir trekked down to present mini collections based on Australian merino wool at the Sydney Opera House – you could count antipodean visits by big name designers on the one hand. Tokyo and Hong Kong seem to be the furthest destination cities to which even luxury brand creative directors have been prepared to hike from their bases in New York, Paris and London in recent years. 

But with seemingly every brand in the world looking to open in Australia at the moment, times clearly have changed. Coincidentally, von Furstenberg’s trip and expensive media splash coincide with plans to launch two more DVF stores in Sydney and Melbourne over the next 12 months according to her local distributor YTD. 

Next week, moreover, von Furstenberg will be followed by Italian Roberti Cavalli, as he personally unveils his collaboration with Target Australia

Travelling with von Furstenberg is a team of three people from her New York DVF HQ: vice president of global communications, Grace Cha; vice president of global events & special projects, Luisella Melonia; and Asia Pacific retail & wholesale director Alice Kim. 

Some parties arrived last night, von Furstenberg this morning, with castings due to take place today. 

Some of the show infrastructure will bump in between now and Wednesday, however with the show taking place in Westfield Sydney’s spectacular 1500sqm Sky Lobby on level seven (below)  – a busy office block lobby which provides access to the  development’s commercial tower at 85 Castlereagh Street – the catwalk itself will be erected, quick sticks, between COB on Wednesday and 6pm which is when guests are due to arrive. 

westfield sydney's sky lobby, the DVF show venue via 

Sydney-based show producer and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia fave Lara Karamian is doing production honours, obviously in close consultation with the DVF team.  MAC makeup artist Ocea Ferber will be re-creating the look shown on DVF’s runway in New York last month, while Redken will be doing the same with the hair, overseen by Jon Pulitano. One aspect of the New York show that won’t be re-created we hear, is von Furstenberg’s collaboration with Google, which saw the designer, her models and entourage kitted out not just in DVF’s new SS13 range of sunglasses last month, but also the new Google Glass augmented reality-enhanced eyewear. Here is a behind-the-scenes video of the show that Google claims was cut together using  exclusively the Google Glass footage: 

Von Furstenberg is sure to be a popular talk show guest this week. 

One of the best-known names in the fashion business, the designer, née Diane Halfin, was born in Belgium, of Romanian and Greek immigrants. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor and she was an erstwhile Euro princess - the Princess of Fürstenberg, to be precise, after a fleeting marriage to German Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. 

Von Furstenberg is credited with inventing the simple jersey ‘wrap’ dress in 1974, which had sold over a million units by 1976, landing her a page one spot on both The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, the latter dubbing her “the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel”

newsweek via

After various business hiccups, von Furstenberg relaunched her company in 1997 and the DVF empire now boasts a USD300million sales turnover, with the brand selling in 72 markets and over 40 DVF boutiques. In August, Forbes accorded her the 33rd spot on its 100 Most Powerful Women list, 13 spots ahead of Vogue US editor Anna Wintour.

Von Furstenberg is married to media mogul and philanthropist Barry Diller, who currently occupies the 804th spot on Forbes' Billionaires list, valued at USD1.6billion.  

One aspect of the latest chapter of von Furstenberg’s career which frockwriter hopes may encourage discussion down under is her involvement with the Council of Fashion Designers of America [CFDA], the peak body for American fashion designers which was founded in 1962 and represents 427 designers. 

Initially elected as the CFDA President in 2005 and re-elected in June this year to an unprecedented fourth term, von Furstenberg has overseen the implementation of a number of CFDA initiatives, including the Model Health initiative. First launched in February 2007, the health initiative was designed to "raise awareness of eating disorders in the fashion industry and to change the aesthetic on the New York runways and in magazines from extreme thinness to a more realistic ideal”

More recently, the CFDA has sought to discourage designers from using models younger than 16. However, it is a voluntary code of conduct and number of designers, such as Marc Jacobs, have continued to use underage models. In February 2011, von Furstenberg was embarrassed to discover that she herself had hired a 15 year-old for her New York Fashion Week show and was obliged to issue an apology.

The CDFA has also helped fight copying in the USD350billion US fashion industry and overseen the implementation of various charity, fashion incubator and scholarship initiatives. 

The CFDA's mission statement is:

To further the position of fashion design as a recognized branch of American art and culture.
To advance its artistic and professional standards, to establish and maintain a code of ethics and practices of mutual benefit in professional, public, and trade relations. 
And to promote and improve public understanding and appreciation of the fashion arts through leadership in quality and taste”.

Which makes you wonder, why can't our own near-invisible, poorly-subscribed and hitherto arguably totally irrelevant Australian Fashion Council do the same? 

And if it can't, why don't we launch something that can? 


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