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Diane von Furstenberg evoked the spirit of Fortuna, the goddess of luck, for her SS16. The starting point was a painting, a turn-of-the century American portrait (and one of her first art purchases), in which the goddess of luck is found barefoot with butterfly wings in a gossamer of pink.
The show was similarly blithe and optimistic: there were fuchsia pink Grecian gowns, printed pyjama silks and floral patchwork dresses all spun with gold and curly disco hair — think Barbie meets David Bailey era Marie Helvin. Her girls, too, were a masterstroke of casting, including Gigi Hadid, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss and Kendall Jenner, all modern Fortunas of the social media age and each armed with their own cult of acolytes to worship them.
It was ethereal in spirit but there is nothing so ephemeral about the 68-year-old chairwoman’s vision for her label. These are interesting times in the accessible luxury market and the departure of Donna Karan from her own label earlier this year has been an opportunity for von Furstenberg to re-examine her own relationship with the brand she launched 45 years ago. How is business? “Business is good,” said the designer. “I’ve just appointed a new CEO, Paolo Riva and I’ve given him the keys to surround himself with talented, vibrant people to set up the company for when I decide to step back and use my voice on a bigger platform.”
It’s OK. Von Furstenberg was not announcing her retirement: the essential DVF sparkle that so powers this brand was just as effervescent and awesome as ever when she took her bow on Sunday night. But her mind is on the future.
Riva, the Italian chief executive who arrived from Tory Burch three months ago, explained: “Diane is one of the most amazingly consistent businesswomen I can think of. She defined the fashion of the times during the ‘70s and ‘80s. She reclaimed the business she had lost power over in 2000 and now in this third phase we need to think of the brand’s personal legend and cement its future.”
With its chief business in women’s clothing, he concedes ready-to-wear has not been the most positive category in the luxury world of late. Although, DVF’s numbers are “good”. His immediate business is to find ways “of preserving and protecting” the house while “clearing up what we don’t need and focusing on product. We’re a lifestyle brand.” He went on, “We’re not going to put limits on what we can achieve as an accessible luxury label.” Better tech, better service and more product will be key in future months: stand by for further announcements.
That same sense of ambition played out loud on the catwalk. This was a joyful collection, with flirty humour and a flowery joie de vivre. Maybe the butterfly-embellished chiffon ball-gown was a little sweet on the eyeballs. But the gold short suit with a tie waist, perspex block heels built for disco dancing and flirty floral dresses that kicked at the knee had more than enough mischief to keep things interesting. And there were pretty printed suits and silks for girls who might have outgrown flower fairy style.
“It’s a celebration of beauty, of freedom and individuality,” announced von Furstenberg backstage. “My message, as always, is to be the woman you want to be.” Luck be a lady — shocking pink.