Diane Von Furstenberg Talks Life Lessons, Career Highlights And Mentoring Olivia Palermo

You don’t need to be a bitch to succeed, says Diane Von Furstenberg...

Diane von Furstenberg

You don’t need to be a bitch to succeed, says Diane Von Furstenberg...

Diane Von Furstenberg is having a very busy week. The fashion icon is releasing a new memoir, celebrating 40 years of her signature wrap dress with a London mini-exhibition and is launching new reality TV gold with House Of DVF, which premiered on E! this week.

‘I’m a pretty open book,’ Diane tells us of her desire to be on screens again. ‘I knew the show would be a lot of fun and it really has been. It is really about reaching an entire new generation of women and showing them what it is like behind the scenes at a big fashion company… and I manage to get a few good messages in.’

Charting her search for a new global brand ambassador (and the inevitably feisty candidate elimination process) Diane says she was looking for someone who exudes ‘confidence and effortlessness’ to fill the role at her eponymous label.

The last time she threw open her design studio doors to a camera crew she launched the career of street-style catnip Olivia Palermo, so it’s no wonder that hundreds initially applied to be on the show.

‘Olivia had a great sense of style and she is very savvy,’ Diane says of her former PR girl and protégée Olivia. ‘I love to know young women at the beginning of their careers and to see them become the woman they want to be.’

Her unique brand of mentoring is a crucial element of the show, as the woman who partied with Brigitte Bardot, married a prince and was painted by Andy Warhol shares her life lessons with her candidates.

‘Diana Vreeland was very supportive early in my career and that gave me a lot of confidence,’ she tells us. ‘I think the industry is different [today than when I started], but I am not sure that it is harder or easier, any more or less competitive.'

‘Everyone has their own path - often, it is hard and then it is easy and then it is hard again. That is how life is, the landscape is always changing.’

‘Ironically, the first time I realized that fashion could be a tough industry was after I had achieved a lot of success. It was after the wrap dress had been very successful and all of the sudden I was on the cover of Newsweek and dining at The White House. Then it got harder. I licensed a lot of my business and I gradually realized I had less and less control. That was difficult in its own way.’

‘Eventually I sold the business and then I realized how hard it was all over again when I decided to come back. I re-launched my company in 1997 with the wrap dress again and I was very nervous about coming back, but I was determined to prove that my success had not been a mistake the first time around.‘

And her top tip for industry success? ‘I say it a lot on the show, you do not have to be a bitch to succeed. Being fiercely determined is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is always more important to be kind.’ House of DVF airs Tuesdays at 9pm on E! 'The Woman I Wanted To Be' Published by Simon & Schuster is out now 'Journey Of A Dress' is open from today until 18th November at Phillips Gallery, London.