THE VON FURSTENBERG STORY

April 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Part two of our conversation with fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg continues with an intimate look at her family, her inspiration and passing the torch of her empire to a new generation.

Aired on April 16, 2018.

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>>> DIANE VON FURSTENBERG IS THE
ULTIMATE FASHION LEGEND, A GRAND
DAME OF THE INDUSTRY FOR MORE
THAN 40 YEARS.
SINCE LAUNCHING HER ICONIC BRAND
IN 1972 SHE'S IMPRESSED THE
WORLD WITH THE INVENTIVE AND
FEMININE DESIGNS.
HER SIGNATURE WRAP DRESS FROM
1974 HAS BEEN WORN BY A BEVY OF
WOMEN, FROM FIRST LADY OBAMA TO
DUCHESS KATE MIDDLETON, BUT THE
NAME VON FURSTENBERG IS MORE
THAN JUST FASHION.
AND HERE FEARLESSNESS CAN BE
TRACED TO HER MOTHER, A
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR WHO GAVE
BIRTH TO VON FURSTENBURG 18
MONTHS AFTER SHE WAS RELEASED
FROM AUSCHWITZ.
SHE RECALLS HER MOTHER SAYING
GOD SAVED ME SO I COULD GIVE YOU
LIFE.
YOU ARE MY TORCH OF FREEDOM.
VON FURSTENBERG IS TRYING TO
PASS THAT ON TO HER 18-YEAR-OLD
GRANDDAUGHTER PAULITIA, THE FACE
OF HER CURRENT CAMPAIGN AS SHE
TOLD "VANITY FAIR" MAGAZINE, MY
GENERATION FOUGHT SO MUCH FOR
BEING FEMINISTS.
MY CHILDREN'S GENERATION TOOK IT
FOR GRANTED AND WEREN'T
ACTIVISTS AND NOW THIS
GENERATION, MY GRANDDAUGHTER'S,
ARE REAL THEM FISTS AND I WOULD
LIKE TO WELCOME DIANE VON
FURSTENBERG.
>> YEAH.
>> THERE'S SO HISTORY TO YOUR
STORY THAT I DON'T THINK A LOT
OF PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE.
IT DIDN'T JUST START WITH A
DRESS FROM THE '70s.
>> WELL, YOU ALWAYS START WITH
WHERE YOU WERE BORN, AND I WAS
REALLY BORN A MIRACLE BECAUSE
THE FACT THAT MY MOTHER SURVIVED
THE LABOR CAMPS DURING THE WAR,
SHE WEIGHED 49 POUNDS WHEN SHE
WAS FINALLY, YOU KNOW, FREE, AND
SHE COULDN'T MOVE.
I MEAN, BUT SHE COULDN'T MOVE,
BUT YET WHEN SHE HAD TO FILL THE
QUESTIONNAIRE WITH HER NAME AND
THEY SAY STATE OF HEALTH SHE
WROTE EXCELLENT HEALTH, EVEN
THOUGH SHE WAS 49 POUNDS, AND
I -- IT WAS ONLY A FEW YEARS AGO
THAT I FOUND THESE PAPERS, BUT
IT WAS SO REVEALING OF MY MOTHER
BEING A SURVIVOR, YOU KNOW?
NOT WANTING TO BE A VICTIM EVEN
THOUGH SHE COULD NOT MOVE, SHE
WOULD REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM
WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY SHE
SURVIVED AND SO SHE WENT BACK TO
BELGIUM AND AND HER FIANCE CAME
BACK FROM SWITZERLAND WHERE HE
WAS.
SIX MONTHS LATER, THEY WERE
MARRIED AND BY THEN SHE WAS, YOU
KNOW, NORMAL, IN A WAY AND THE
DOCTOR SAID YOU ABSOLUTELY
CANNOT HAVE CHILD FOR AT LEAST
THREE YEARS BECAUSE YOU WON'T
SURVIVE AND THE CHILD WILL NOT
BE NORMAL.
AND SURE ENOUGH, NINE MONTHS
LATER I WAS BORN AND I WAS NOT
NORMAL.
>> I WOULD HARDLY SAY THAT, BUT
IF YOU ARE NOT NORMAL IT'S IN A
VERY POSITIVE WAY.
I'M WONDERING, WHAT WAS THE
IMPACT, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
THAT YOU FEEL YOUR MOTHER --
>> GAVE ME?
>> YES.
>> THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT MY
MOTHER GAVE ME IS THAT I WAS
NEVER ALLOWED TO BE AFRAID.
FEAR WAS NOT AN OPTION.
IF I WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK SHE
WOULD LOCK ME IN THE CLOSET AND
SHE WOULD PROBABLY GO TO JAIL
FOR THAT.
>> I WAS GOING TO SAY THAT'S
VERY OLD SCHOOL.
>> IN THE END YOU REALIZE THAT
THE DARK DOESN'T STAY DARK AND
THERE IS ALWAYS A LITTLE BIT OF
LIGHT AND ALSO WHY BE AFRAID OF
THE DARK?
SO THE FACT THAT SHE DID NOT
ALLOW ME TO BE AFRAID I THINK IS
THE BEST GIFT SHE COULD GIVE ME
AND THE FACT THAT SHE ENCOURAGED
ME TO BE INDEPENDENT AND
ENCOURAGED ME TO BE MYSELF AND
TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MYSELF, I
THINK THAT'S THE BEST GIFT YOU
CAN HAVE.
>> THAT'S SO INTENSE AND AMAZING
AND I WONDER SPECIFICALLY AS THE
CHILD OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR,
WHEN IT CAME TO RAISING YOUR OWN
CHILDREN, DID YOU WANT TO PASS
ON SOME OF THOSE LESSONS THAT
YOU GOT OR DID YOU WANT TO
CHANGE IT?
>> I DIDN'T HAVE TO BECAUSE MY
MOTHER LIVED WITH US SIX MONTHS
OF THE YEAR.
>> OH!
>> SO SHE PASSED IT DIRECTLY TO
MY CHILDREN WHAT I HAD PASSED,
BUT I ALWAYS SAID TO MY CHILDREN
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN TO ME.
I CAN DIE.
I DON'T INTEND TO, BUT I CAN.
IT CAN HAPPEN AND SO YOU HAVE TO
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF.
SO EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY, MY
CHILDREN AND MY GRANDCHILDREN,
EVERYBODY WAS ABSOLUTELY TOLD --
TAUGHT TO BE INDEPENDENT NO
MATTER WHAT AND NO MATTER WHAT,
TO KNOW THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT
RELATIONSHIP IN LIFE IS THE ONE
YOU HAVE WITH YOURSELF BECAUSE
YOUR STRENGTH COMES FROM WITHIN.
>> SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I
THOUGHT WAS SO INTERESTING
ESPECIALLY FROM THAT "VANITY
FAIR" ARTICLE WAS THAT YOU FELT
AS THOUGH YOUR CHILDREN'S
GENERATION WEREN'T ACTIVE
ENOUGH.
>> NO, IT'S JUST MY DAUGHTER IS
A FEMINIST, BUT SHE DIDN'T
HAVE -- BY THE WAY, MY DAUGHTER
IS AN ACTIVIST.
SHE IS VERY MUCH AN ACTIVIST.
SHE PROBABLY IS EVEN MORE THAN I
AM, BUT THE FEMINIST THING AND
HER GENERATION, THEY DIDN'T HAVE
TO FEEL IT SO MUCH BECAUSE IT
WAS SO MUCH PART OF THEIR
CHILDHOOD TO SEE US DOING IT,
YOU KNOW?
SO AFTER THAT NOBODY ASKED YOU
THESE KINDS OF QUESTIONS AND NOW
THERE'S A NEW REBIRTH OF THAT
WHICH IS -- WHICH IS FOR ME VERY
NICE.
>> YOU'RE SEEING THAT IN YOUR
GRANDDAUGHTER'S GENERATION?
>> YES.
YES.
THEY DEFINITELY ARE EQUAL AND,
YOU KNOW, FOR EQUAL -- YES.
VERY MUCH SO.
>> DIANE, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THE
PROGRAM, FOR SHARING YOUR STORY
AND OF COURSE, YOUR BEAUTIFUL
CLOTHES AND THE WORK THAT YOU
DO.
THANK YOU.