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Diane von Frstenberg: Woman in Critical Charge The hedonistic phenomenon of the fashion business has stories to tell | Movies

Diane von Frstenberg: Woman in Critical Charge The hedonistic phenomenon of the fashion business has stories to tell |  Movies
Diane von Frstenberg: Woman in Critical Charge The hedonistic phenomenon of the fashion business has stories to tell |  Movies


So many fashion documentaries are cold and tasteless; This one, however, from filmmakers Trish Dalton and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, has a story to tell about someone with something to say. Diane von Frstenberg is the designer, entrepreneur, former Olympic-level hedonist and Studio 54 regular who once hooked up (separately) with Warren Beatty and Ryan O'Neal over the same weekend, but turned it down with casually having a threesome with Mick Jagger and David Bowie. She was also the daughter of a Belgian Jewish Holocaust survivor, Lily Halfin, to whom she was very close throughout her life and was devastated when Lily suffered delayed trauma decades after the war; his mother suffered a breakdown during a business trip to Germany, triggered by loud German voices. Von Frstenberg herself had to face anti-Semitism, particularly from those close to her husband; she was married to Prince Egon von Frstenberg, a bisexual German cocaine enthusiast.

Von Frstenberg's key invention (besides her own celebrity, which played such an important role in strengthening and diversifying her brand) was the sensationally successful figure-hugging wrap dress. It was developed from a wrap top she had originally designed, itself inspired by ballerina clothing; then she saw Richard Nixon's daughter Julie defending him on television, wearing that same top with a skirt and Von Frstenberg had the idea to make a whole dress out of it. With the support of Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, it became the key retail fashion item of the era; as she says, American women wore it to their first job, their first interview or their first prom. Humorously, the film shows an excerpt of Cybill Shepherds' character wearing a Von Frstenberg wrap dress in Taxi Driver in a scene with Robert De Niros Travis Bickle. (And like many male fans of these films, I hadn't appreciated this until now.)

Von Frstenberg struggled when the market for wrap dresses became saturated, but with great ingenuity she used direct sales on the QVC shopping channel, ignoring the snobs and making millions. She also relied, I suspect, on financial assistance from her second husband and love of her life, former Hollywood mogul Barry Diller.

She was, moreover, an emotional and sexual adventuress, unconcerned with bourgeois disgusts or with men who forbid women's pleasure while themselves secretly rejecting monogamy. There is a semi-intentionally hilarious twist in this film when she is shown on television advertising her new perfume called Volcan d'Amour, breathlessly reciting the tagline: It's a love, it's is a promise, it's almost a commitment Almost! And as devoted as she is to her children, we see that she is not entirely in tune with their way of speaking; she visibly moves away when her daughter tells her on the phone to be present. It’s a fun and loving tribute.

Diane von Frstenberg: Woman in Charge is on Disney+ from June 25




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