On March 27th, Diane Von Furstenberg hosted The Ireland Funds America Women’s Group for an evening of cocktails, conversation and fashion at her studio located in New York City’s Meatpacking District.
Kieran McLoughlin, Worldwide President & CEO of The Ireland Funds, introduced Diane and commended her leadership in chairing the $100 million campaign for the new Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island.
Recently named as Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in Fashion and featured in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Diane welcomed 120 of our supporters to her downtown studio and spoke about her life as a philanthropist, business leader and fashion icon.
Diane spoke about how, defying all odds, her mother had survived the Holocaust. Diane described her own birth as a triumph saying, “she was not supposed to survive; I was not supposed to be born.” She went on to share how her mother had taught her that, “fear was not an option.”
Diane first began making her own clothing as an apprentice in a textile manufacturing facility in Como, Italy. After a trip to New York, she fell in love with the city and immigrated there in the late 1960s. In 1974, she introduced the iconic wrap dress which went on to become a fashion phenomenon and made Diane one of the most powerful forces in fashion around the world.
As a philanthropist, Diane and her husband Barry Diller signed The Giving Pledge in 2010; committing to give away more than half of their wealth to charity. In her remarks, Diane referenced the work of Northern Irish trade union leader and human rights activist Inez McCormack and cited philanthropist Chuck Feeney for his magnificent support of Ireland.
Recognizing the importance of supporting the local community, Diane spoke of how she invested and planted her fashion business in the Meatpacking District in the mid-1990s when the area was very underdeveloped and gritty. Since then, The Meatpacking District has become a fashion hotspot and a vibrant neighborhood thanks in part to Diane’s support. Diane was also one of the key supporters in developing The High Line (an elevated park that runs through Manhattan’s West side) into what it is today – one of New York City’s most popular attractions that welcomes over 8 million visitors each year.
Now in what she described as the ‘Third Act’ of her life, Diane has taken a step back from designing and is focused on advocating for women’s empowerment through her fashion and philanthropy. She currently sits on the board of Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization that supports female leaders and entrepreneurs around the world. Following The Good Friday Agreement, The Ireland Funds supported Vital Voices’ work in Northern Ireland in accelerating peace and prosperity.
Following Diane’s speech, Philip Atkins, Vice President of Global Merchandising, presented DVF’s new collection which had been overseen by the brand’s latest Chief Creative Officer, Jonathan Saunders. After this fashion show, Philip brought guests down to the store for a private styling experience where everyone was also given a copy of Diane’s memoir The Woman I Wanted To Be.
Special guests in attendance included Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations David Donoghue, The Ireland Funds America Chairman Emeritus Loretta Brennan Glucksman and board members Shane Naughton, Tara McCabe and Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley.
Thank you to Diane Von Furstenberg and her great team for all their support in creating such a memorable night for all those who attended.