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