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Next on Revealed: Diane von Furstenberg

  • Story Highlights
  • In November, CNN's Revealed explores the life of Diane von Furstenberg
  • The Belgian designer wowed the fashion world with her simple wrap dress
  • DVF became familiar initials used to sell anything from homeware to lipstick
  • CNN's Revealed follows the designer backstage at a fashion show in Florence
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By Stefanie Blendis
CNN Producer
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- "No matter what I do in life I think I will always be remembered as the wrap dress" -- (Diane von Furstenberg, CNN 2008)

Calling the shots: Diane von Furstenberg oversees a meeting to discuss handbags in New York.

Calling the shots: Diane von Furstenberg oversees a meeting to discuss handbags in New York.

Belgian-born, New York-living, ex-member of the German royal family, daughter of a holocaust survivor, socialite and business-woman, Diane von Furstenberg is famous for one thing: a single item of clothing. Her wrap dress -- a patterned piece of jersey tied around the body like a kimono -- sold in the millions.

In the 70s, when Von Furstenberg launched her dress business, the wrap's simplicity became synonymous with feminism and the sexual revolution.

"I was selling clothes that would make other women feel confident," (Von Furstenberg, CNN, 2008).

And the designer herself came to become the face of the brand. Photographed modeling her own clothes, launched a face that became so iconic that Andy Warhol painted her.

But with success came boom then bust -- the 80s saw a dramatic nose-dive in the quality and distribution of the DVF brand.

"I became successful very quickly, a lot of people wanted my name and I licensed a lot of things .. the spirit of the brand disappeared", (Von Furstenberg, CNN, 2008).

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In the late 90s, wrap dresses came back in to fashion, and DVF returned to the fashion pages, and subsequently fashion shows, of the age. The comeback is recorded as one of the most successful business stories of the decade.

Her 30 stores and countless concessions in department stores make the DVF brand a multi-million dollar fashion empire. She dresses celebrities from Madonna to Sharon Stone, but keeps her products affordable and maintains an ethos of "easy to wear"

"When a woman goes in to a DVF shop and tries something on, it's like a light turns on", (Von Furstenberg, CNN, 2008).

Celebrities are often snapped wearing Von Furstenberg's designs. DVF often clings to Eva Longoria Parker's silhouette who declares to Revealed "She is one of my favorite people -- not just a designer!"

Honored by the Council of Fashion of Designers of America (CFDA) by inviting Von Furstenberg to act as President -- she is now seen as the Grand Dame of New York fashion. CNN gains access to her as she prepares for the 2008 CFDA Awards -- deciding at the last moment to ditch one of her own designs and wear an Yves St Laurent tuxedo in a tribute to her friend, the designer who died a few days before the ceremony. Clearly moved, Revealed includes footage of her rehearsing the changes to her speech to include a touching farewell to YSL: "He brought art into fashion, and fashion into art. He used to joke that he always wanted to be Matisse. But I think if we could have asked Matisse, he would have wanted to be Yves St Laurent" she tells CNN.

Revealed follows Diane von Furstenberg at an exciting moment in her catwalk history. For the first time she is showing outside of the United States, and the setting for her European debut is a romantic private Florentine garden, under the full moon. The Tuscan capital is a special place for her, as it was half an hour down the road that her first wrap dress was produced in a local textile factory.

We document the magnificent event from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Interviewing Von Furstenberg herself, along with supermodel Natalia Vodianova, and DVF Creative Director Nathan Jenden; we get a sense of the unfolding of a magical star-lit event. From fittings and dress rehearsals, to visits from the 9-year-old granddaughter Von Furstenberg lovingly calls 'her assistant,' we experience the excitement of the designer returning home to Europe and putting on a magnificent show to herald her arrival.

The theme of the collection is "Le Petit Valise" -- a group of outfits that can be easily packed and will not crumple; a notion in keeping with the spirit of the DVF brand. Inspired by the Talented Mr Ripley, 600 guests including Lapo Elkan (heir to the Fiat empire) witness the 50 wardrobe changes of a young American traveling abroad.

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To experience the elegant, informal, party-loving spirit of DVF and her team of designers and models, tune in to "Revealed" on CNN International in November.

ALL TIMES GMT
Wednesday, November 19
0930
1830
Saturday, November 22
0830
1900
Sunday, November 23
0530
1830
Monday, November 24
0400

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