Diane von Furstenberg, the iconic Belgian-born fashion designer, has long been synonymous with effortless elegance and fearless femininity. Her signature wrap dress, first introduced in the 1970s, has become an enduring symbol of both style and liberation for women the world over.
Born in Brussels in 1946, von Furstenberg began her career in fashion after marrying the German Prince Egon von Furstenberg in 1969. She launched her eponymous label just two years later, and quickly gained recognition for her bold prints and daring designs.
Over the decades that followed, von Furstenberg continued to innovate and inspire, branching out into accessories, fragrance, and home decor, and earning accolades from industry insiders and fans alike. She also served as the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 2006 to 2019, championing emerging designers and advocating for sustainability in the industry.
Throughout her storied career, von Furstenberg has never lost sight of her mission to uplift and empower women. The DvF website is home to a monthly book club aimed at amplifying female-identifying authors, and von Furstenberg herself recently curated a reading list in honor of the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction. As she once famously declared, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”
From Simone Veil to Gloria Steinem, explore von Furstenberg’s book recommendations below, and complement with the female-forward reading lists of Emma Watson, Elena Ferrante, Erica Jong, and Gloria Steinem.
Diane von Furstenberg’s Reading List
A Life by Simone Veil
“Simone Veil was a politician in France, she was minister many times. She was about the same age, and had the same journey, as my mother. She was in Auschwitz, and she was a survivor. She did the Death March, and so did my mother. So I was interested in reading her memoir because survivors have many things in common. I was raised by a mother who always told me that to be a woman was lucky; I wasn’t raised by a mother who felt overpowered by men. She always made me feel that it was such a privilege.” -DvF
“Simone de Beauvoir was an intellectual, writer, existentialist and philosopher. I really admired that. I don’t remember having read The Second Sex all in one go – I studied it and analysed it – but it just had an impact. But as a woman she had so much impact as well. She wrote about women’s oppression, freedom, and not being overpowered by a man. It’s all about equality.” -DvF
“When I came to New York it was very much the time of sex liberation, and women’s lib. The women who were my idols were Angela Davis, the Black Panthers, and Gloria Steinem, especially. What I loved about Gloria Steinem is that she was such an advocate for woman, yet she was a beautiful woman, and she was seductive. I also love the fact that she never takes herself seriously even though she has had such an effect on generations of women.” -DvF
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
“What I love the most about her is the way her writing is so brilliant, but there’s a certain detachment that is so powerful. She’s never emotional. And I guess that, now that I’m thinking about it, the common thread, of all of the books and all of these women that I’ve told you about, is all about being strong.” -DvF
Blowout by Rachel Maddow
“What I love about Rachel Maddow is she is angry, she’s an activist, she’s loud, and she’s not afraid. She’s angry in a very intelligent way – she proves a point, she does her research. And so the reason I chose this book is because activism is very important to fight inequality, abuse, and violence.” -DvF
(via The Women’s Prize for Fiction; photo by Molly Matalon)
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