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Diane von Furstenberg's iconic wrap dress turns 40 (Photos)

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A retrospective exhibition will display vintage and contemporary wrap dress designs, from the first sample to what has become a symbol of power and freedom for generations of women.

In 1974, a 26-year-old Diane von Furstenberg created the iconic wrap dress. It's a dress made of often colorful and elaborately patterned jersey material that wraps around the body, crosses at the chest and cinches at the waist. It can be short or long, collared or not, and with sleeves or without.  

But most importantly, it was comfortable and flattering for millions of women, from your next door neighbor to the A-list celebrity on the red carpet. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of von Furstenberg's creation, which will be celebrated with "Journey of a Dress" from Jan. 11 to April 1 at the Wilshire May Co. building in Los Angeles. The retrospective exhibition will display vintage and contemporary wrap designs, from the first sample to what has become a symbol of power and freedom for generations of women.

Host Alex Cohen took a tour of the exhibit with von Furstenberg to learn about why the dress made such an impact on the lives of so many woman. 


Interview Highlights:

On what the wrap dress means to her:
"I always treated this little dress, you know how you treat something from your family and you take it for granted? And yet she gave me everything. She is the dress. She gave me my freedom, my independence, paid for all my bills, gave me fame, gave me confidence, gave me success, changed my life, and changed so many women's lives, over 40 years. But I never honored her, and sometimes I almost resented her, because whenever you see Diane von Furstenberg, you always say wrap dress, but you know, I have designed many other things."

On the inspiration for the wrap dress:
"It first started like it was ballerina wear. That's how it started. I had been working for an Italian man who had a printing plant, so he taught me everything about print, but I still wanted to be independent. So I said to this man, can I please make a few samples from your factory that I will try to sell in America, and that's how it started."

On why it seems to be flattering on most women:
"It embraces the body in a very nice way. You can be proper and sexy at the same time. I remember I saw a women lately and she told me she's a southern woman. She said, 'Oh, I remember my first dress in 1975, I love it so much because it allowed me to be sexy during the day."

On what it's like to see all the dresses together:
"I don't think I have ever embraced it the way I am embracing it today. When I look at all of them together like that I say wow, it's really something that one little idea has so many lives and so many generations. My mother wore them, I wore them, my daughter, my granddaughter now. It's pretty amazing."

On what she hopes the wrap dress will be like in the future:
"All I want is, I think that through the dress, my message is to always tell women that they can be and they should be the woman they want to be. What we do is celebrate freedom and empower women, and sell confidence, because at the end it's the confidence that makes you beautiful."

Talk to Take Two: Do you have a von Furstenberg wrap dress story? Tell us about it in the comments, or submit your story on our Facebook page!

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