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FASHION: RAPTURE

 
 

The Anatomy of a Design Classic

   

 

  

 

Design Classics: iconic, indelible images come to mind -- the Wassily chair, the Concorde, the Apple Macintosh….

What makes a design classic?  Perhaps the notion of timelessness, of enduring through time, and also, of staying faithful to the original intention in line and form and idea.  That the object was innovative, almost revolutionary in design or use of material when first created.  And, of course, that it possesses a certain beauty, a heightened aestheticism, a unique and 'strong' visual iconography. 

In fashion it is all this, as well as something indefinable…an emotional response -- how a design makes the wearer feel and look.  A woman in the brilliantly-cut DVF wrap is at once both feminine and bold, confident and kittenish, wrapped yet unwrapped. 

Diane von Furstenberg has said of her wrap dress: "…What is so special about it is that it's actually a very traditional form of clothing. Its like a toga, it's like a kimono, without buttons, without a zipper. What made my wrap dresses different is that they were made out of jersey and they sculpted the body…" 

The DVF wrap attained cult status from the moment it was introduced in the 1970s, and was iconic even through its demise in the late '70s and most recent updated reincarnation in the 90's.  Perhaps the reason for its enduring status lies in the inherent contradictions in its design.  It is not particularly revealing and the sleeves are long, yet there is a subtle sensuality in the way it clings to the rib cage and body.  It is tailored and moulds the upper half of the body, yet all this without a button or snap or zip.  A woman wrapped up like a present…  It is eminently modern, yet some of the best dresses are patterned boldly in geometric patterns that are almost tribal.  The dress morphs from business meeting to lunch to evening event with chameleon-like ease yet one could never be invisible in a DVF wrap.  Constructed of silk jersey, it works in warmer and cooler weather - it is in many ways, a second skin, but also, always, armor. 

But the DVF wrap is a design classic primarily because Diane von Furstenberg designed what she knew, and designed for herself.  What she was going for with her design was an emotional response in the woman wearing her wrap dress and the idea of fashion as metamorphosis.  She wrote the slogan for her very first ad where she leans against a white cube which declares in bold script: Feel like a woman, Wear a dress!          

 

 

Wear: DVF Wrap Dress 

 

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©2009 eCognoscente 

All design and illustration by Anita Itty