Cause of Choice: Vital Voices
First Paying Job: Receptionist
Her Groundbreakers: Marlene Dietrich and Mother Teresa
Fitting the First Lady: Michelle Obama, in her first holiday card from the White House, wore a re-issued print of Von Furstenberg's very first wrap dress.
Diane Halfin, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, was just out of school and already working when she married into the House of Furstenberg in 1969. Not content to idle as Princess von Furstenberg, she later recalled, “I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts." She was the mother of two small children by the time the knitted jersey “wrap dress” made her a sensation in 1973. Now enshrined in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the garment was a fun, sexy, accessible item - the best of the 1970s, right off the rack. It came to symbolize power and independence for an entire generation of women. By 1976, she had sold over a million.
Von Furstenberg was the toast of New York in those years, a perfect Warhol muse. She retreated during the 1980s, but re-emerged in thrilling form. Her creative and business lives have again flourished, but she perhaps thrives most as a good citizen. She's President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a member of the board of Vital Voices, supporting female leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2010, with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, Diane established the DVF Awards to honor and provide grants to women who have displayed leadership, strength and courage in their commitment to their causes.