Why Diane Von Furstenberg's Wrap Dress Is The Most Empowering Dress Ever

Nellie Eden
by Nellie Eden

It’s a dress that women love to wear and that has come to stand for femininity and feminism all at once. We’re honouring the humble wrap dress’ 40th anniversary by celebrating the women who wore it best.

In 1970 Diane von Furstenberg arrived in New York with suitcase full of jersey dresses that she’d made at her friend’s factory in Italy. Encouraged by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Diane set about making her imprint on the fashion world. Despite having married Prince Egon von Furstenburg of Germany, Diane was determined to make a name, and money, for herself. The wrap dress was born in 1974 and established a new liberating style movement for women around the globe. Within two years she’d sold five million of her wrap dresses and Newsweek had called her 'the most marketable designer since Coco Chanel.'

When asked about the undeniable sex appeal of a dress without buttons or zips, DVF famously shot back: 'Well, if you're trying to slip out without waking a sleeping man, zips are a nightmare.'

These are our favourite DVF wrap dress moments:

1. A 17-year-old Jerry Hall strutted down the runway in a 1975 DVF fashion show at The Pierre hotel in NYC wearing an early version of the wrap dress. The show marked both the start of Jerry and Diane’s careers - now that’s girl power.

2. Cybill Shepherd wore a wrap dress in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver in 1975. Cybil’s offhand sophistication echoed the wrap’s casually chic attitude. The dress was low-necked with a red and white geometric pattern and tie-waist. Both film and dress were to become cult 70s happenings.

3. What does the Queen of Pop wear when she wants to be taken seriously? Madonna opted for a wrap dress when she spoke at a press conference in Israel for the launch of her children’s book in 2004.

4. Sarah Jessica Parker recalled the first time she wore a vintage wrap dress on the set of Sex And the City, saying ‘it hides every secret you want to hide. I just felt flawless.' Both the Carrie Bradshaw character and DVF became symbolic of female sexual liberation, female empowerment in the work place and, of course, New York. 

5. Ingrid Betancourt was running for president of Colombia in 2002 when she was kidnapped by rebels and held in the jungle for seven years in captivity. After wearing male camouflage uniforms for seven years, Ingrid chose to step out into the public eye, for the first time, wearing a wrap dress.

6. Who gets their family Christmas card photographed by Annie Lebovitz? The Obamas, of course. For her very first White House Christmas card, Michelle Obama plumped for the fashion designer’s signature chain link print wrap dress and she's worn variations on the classic for numerous public occassions.

7. Kate Middleton is a huge Diane von Furstenberg fan. She is also one of the most pursued and photographed women in the world, and yet, she manages to remain the image of cool and serene chic amidst all the drama. She wore a pink paisley wrap on the Jubilee tour and a modern emerald-green update of the wrap dress for Zara Philips and Mike Tindall’s nuptials in 2011.

8. Amy Adams wore three DVF wrap dresses in American Hustle. The first she wears is the green and white dress that Diane herself was photographed in for the cover of Newsweek in 1976.


Now check out 49 other dresses that changed fashion forever...

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