Iconic von Furstenberg offers advice to designers on handling pandemic



COVID-19 has put life across the globe on pause. And the fashion industry has not been sheltered from the economic ramifications of stay at home orders across most of America.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg speaks to Imran Amed via Zoom during the Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020 webinar April 21.

Brick and mortar clothing stores have locked their doors. Production also has halted. This means those in the fashion industry also are teetering toward financial disaster.

Diana von Furstenberg may be a fashion icon. But the former president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America also has been impacted by COVID-19. Like other designers, her business has ground to a halt. And she’s been holed up in her home like the rest of Americans.

Via Zoom, von Furstenberg was a guest speaker for Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020 on April 21. . During the conference, panelists, speakers, and guests shared opinions, thoughts and suggestions to address sustainability, ethics and leadership from the top-down.

Even as the industry she loves was being beaten down by the pandemic, von Furstenberg was philosophical about what she recognized is a tragic situation.

The designer, who is in the midst of writing a book about her life, used her time on Zoom to offer words of wisdom to her fashion peers.

“The secret of life is owning it,” said von Furstenberg.

“This (pandemic) is a gift because it is giving you time… to be a better person,” said von Furstenberg.

“This situation is both dangerous and an opportunity,” said von Furstenberg. “This reality may change your life… Take the opportunity (presented) that may have been meant to be (for your future).”

However, the designer said, “Be truly really honest with yourself…. Don’t pretend (the danger’s) not there.”

However, von Furstenberg said, don’t be afraid, angry, and ashamed. It’s much easier if you don’t blame yourself for troubles beyond your control like coronavirus.

Due to COVID-19, von Furstenberg said, everyone is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The whole world of fashion is changing, said von Furstenberg, not just the lives of fashion designers.

“It’s devastating for the whole industry,” said von Furstenberg. Makeup artists, hairdressers, photographers, and production crews all have been idled.

“Magazines and newspapers aren’t what they used to be,” she said.

“The whole support system (in the fashion industry) is being shaken,” said von Furstenberg

Von Furstenberg also noted, “These people also are consumers” who aren’t buy clothes.

Given the times, said von Furstenberg. “Business people have to make terrible decisions (they) don’t want to make….The right decisions aren’t always the easiest decisions.”

“Each one of you has to do what is right for you,” said von Furstenberg.

When life turns around after COVID-19, said von Furstenberg. “Let’s not do things because that’s the way we used to do it.”