Diane von Furstenberg in Her Third Act

Diane von Furstenberg at 70, in her office in the Meatpacking District, NYC (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

I always used to say that life has three moments,” she says, sitting in her downtown office on a recent afternoon. “One is development, until about (age) 30. One is enjoyment, and then the third, the last season of your life, is somehow about fulfillment.” ~ Diane von Furstenberg

Designer Diane von Furstenberg is refocusing her life. Having handed over the creative reins of her fashion label to Jonathan Saunders, one of fashion’s most iconic names is turning her energies to philanthropy.  When von Furstenberg turned 70 on New Year’s Eve, she had already been asking herself,  “What kind of senior citizen do I want to be? How do I stay relevant?” – for a year. What she decided, she says, was to use her voice to focus on women from the inside, rather than the outside. “All my life was about creating a product, fashion, something (women) could use to be the woman they want to be, and now in my third act I want to use my voice to help women be the woman they want to be, but from the inside.

When I read von Furstenbergs’ memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, I was touched by her mother’s story and the strength (and life!) that she received from her mother. Her mother was a concentration camp survivor. She survived two concentration camps, and even though she came home weighing only 59 pounds, she gave birth the following year to her daughter, Diane. Throughout her life, her mother would tell her that God saved her so that she could give her life. I think that is why Diane von Furstenberg wants to help women find their voices and their strength. I think it is what motivates her. I want to see how she inspires women going forward, in her third act …


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When Philanthropy and Fashion Unite …

Courtesy, Harper's Bazaar

Courtesy, Harper’s Bazaar

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the achievement of women. This year the theme was accelerating gender parity. In honor of the day, Harper’s Bazaar highlighted 12 fashion brands that support women around the world by combining philanthropy and fashion. Here are just three of the brands and the remarkable stories – be inspired …

Akola Project: A verb, meaning, “she works.” Says founder Brittany Merrill Underwood, “Here at Akola we are trying to create a product line that is both made by but also fully benefits marginalized women in war torn regions in Northern Uganda, women in Eastern Uganda who have experienced the HIV-Aids epidemic, and women in Dallas who have been sexually trafficked.”

FashionAble: “To be clear, FASHIONABLE is not a charitable model of business. We believe that generational poverty is interrupted when people can provide for themselves. We believe that social businesses whose aim is to alleviate poverty should use their business skills to create job opportunities for the poor, not give them more charity. What we seek to ‘give’ to those living in poverty is opportunity by purchasing goods from them, and helping those businesses grow and employ more.”

Rallier: Founder Olivia Rose Fay, was inspired after see the documentary Girl Rising: “Research led me to a study in Kenya, which found that giving school uniforms to students who did not previously own one reduced school absenteeism by 64%. Even in cases without the requirement, schoolgirls likely wouldn’t go to school if they didn’t have a school uniform. I think we can all relate to the influence that clothing has on where and how we decide to show up. So, three years later, RALLIER is launching and for every dress sold, school uniforms are sourced from regions plagued by gender inequality and given to local schoolgirls.”



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