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How Diane von Furstenberg Is Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

Photos: Courtesy of BFA for DVF Awards

Diane Von Furstenberg is known for making some of the world’s most famous faces stand out with her timeless creations on the red carpet, so it’s no surprise the fashion designer is also passionate about putting some of the most influential voices in the spotlight as well.

Since 2010, Furstenberg, the founder of the fashion line DVF, has held the annual DVF Awards as part of the Women in the World conference to honor five women who have dedicated their life’s work to raising awareness for women’s causes. Each honoree receives $50,000 to help propel her nonprofit’s mission.

“I was shy about creating the Awards at first, but the platform of the Women in the World Conference gave me the push I needed,” says Furstenberg, who co-founded the ceremony with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. The foundation is a philanthropic organization that she runs with her husband, Barry Diller. “I am very proud of what we did. The women that we honor and help are extraordinary, and it is very humbling to witness their great work.”

Leadership to inspire

Nominees for this year’s People’s Voice Award, whose recipient is chosen by the popular vote, include: Amanda Nguyen and her organization, Rise, which fights for sexual violence survivors’ rights; Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm of the global network WITNESS, which uses technology and video to give a voice to women who may not otherwise be heard; Susan Burton, the founder of A New Way of Life, which helps women rebuild their lives after being incarcerated; and Maria Vertkin, of Found in Translation, which helps low-income women and immigrants attain economic security with their language skills.  

 “They are all, as I imagined when I founded the awards a decade ago, women who have the courage to fight, the strength to survive and the leadership to inspire,” Furstenberg says. This year’s DVF Awards will be held on April 11, 2019 in New York City.

In her nearly five decade-long career, Furstenberg, 72, has no doubt in her own life that she has earned countless admirers who have been inspired by her artistic visions — including the famous wrap dress designed for the everyday woman.

Iconic status

Furstenberg said her iconic status in the fashion industry doesn’t make her feel “pressure” — her achievements have motivated her to pay attention to the world, set a good example and give back.

“It’s not about being an icon — it’s about being a role model,” Furstenberg says. “When you get any success, it is important to use your voice, your knowledge, your experiences and connection to help others.”

Staying true to your values is the main advice Furstenberg would give aspiring businesswomen. “Believe in yourself and trust your instincts,” she says, “because the relationship you keep with yourself is the most important.”

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