The editor of Harper’s Bazaar India explains why DVF’s Wrap dress was a zeitgeist of its times
Sexy, effortless and perfect for all body types, there has never been a single outfit that has done more for women than the wrap dress. Not only is it flattering for women of all ages, this single garment is a girl’s best friend because it travels light and travels well.
The story behind this iconic piece is perhaps as simple as the idea behind the design. When Diane von Fürstenberg married German prince Egon von Fürstenberg, she decided she wanted to be more than a party girl. In early interviews, she has often been quoted as saying, “The minute I knew I was about to be Egon's wife, I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts.” But it only became a serious business when DVF was noticed by the legendary Diana Vreeland. Suddenly the 24-year-old was a New York fashion tycoon, whose sinuous dresses were a zeitgeist of the times. They were said to wrap the body in an expression of sexual and social freedom. According to an article written by fashion critic Suzy Menkes in 1998, while reviewing Diane: A Signature Life, “There is no doubt that her dresses caught a fashion moment, as the angular, geometric miniskirts of the 1960s melted into the softer, wispier 1970s.” And that's how a simple knitted jersey garment -- introduced in 1974 – came to be featured in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its influence on women’s fashion.
In 1997, DVF relaunched the wrap dress – she didn't change much but you don't need to mess with perfection. What the new wrap dress did was add a younger generation of faithfuls. Today, women who prefer DVF include Jerry Hall, Cybill Shepherd, Madonna, SJP, Michelle Obama, Amy Adams and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
The year 2014 saw the 40th anniversary of the wrap dress but perhaps, the best description of the dress’ longevity comes from the designer herself in a much earlier interview to the Independent UK in 2008- “It's more than just a dress; it's a spirit. The wrap dress was an interesting cultural phenomenon, and one that has lasted 30 years. What is so special about it is that it's actually a very traditional form of clothing. It’s like a toga, it's like a kimono, without buttons, without a zipper. What made my wrap dresses different is that they were made out of jersey and they sculpted the body.” All the while respecting the feminine shape. The dress, a single piece of clothing, is the easiest thing to wear. No wonder women around the world cherish this simple statement.