Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Resort & Resentment

I've always been a fan of Diane von Furstenberg. I think DvF sums up a kind of accessible American glamor that most women can pull off with ease, and look great in. Her clothes are not sexpot, but they are sexy, in a way that's not so obvious you can't wear them to work or a PTA meeting.

DvF made a big splash in the 70's, running around NYC, hitting Studio 54 with Halston & Andy & Liza (oh, my!) and introducing the iconic wrap dress. Her brand degenerated in prestige and quality over a period, and then pretty much disappeared. She relaunched her design business in 1997 and has done shriekingly well since then. I mean, you'll find DvF-wear in most department stores these days: Saks, Neimans, Barney's, Nordstrom, not mention countless online and brick & mortar boutiques. I am often moved to wonder how many "design assistants" Ms. D must have, because every season there is a raft of new stuff. (Go to her website to check it out and shop all the stuff -- seriously, there is scads of it.) And there's usually a lot of it that I love -- sleek, wearable, well-made clothes that work for multiple occasions. She does great dresses, but she also does great separates, and a lot of stuff that carries over well from season to season and year to year, so you can invest in a blouse or a pair of slacks and not worry about them being hopelessly outdated in six months. And they're not even as serious an investment as a lot of other designers -- DvF's price point is far from outrageous, and he clothes are usually found in the "Contemporary" or "Bridge" sections of department stores.

Her latest resort collecion was no exception for me; I liked it a bunch. Diane loves color and pattern, which endears her to me, of course. I do get worn out with the blackness of fashion sometimes, despite some of my favorite designers being semi-obsessed with it. There's a fair bit of black and white in this collection, but she leavens it with healthy doses of color.


Who doesn't love a trench? They seem to still be with us after a resurgence a few seasons ago and I am all in favor of it.


I have a dress of hers very like this in another pattern from last summer and I ADORE it, I wear it all the time.



So sweet. Excellent dress to wear to attend a summer wedding.


The classic wrap dress that DvF does so well.


Color. Shirtwaist. Big fun skirt. Bingo!


Delicious summer dress, it looks like she's all tied up in a beautiful scarf.


Speaking of summer weddings, wouldn't that be a beautiful bridal gown for a garden wedding? Just lovely.


This pajamas thing has been gaining steam since Ann Demeulemeester showed it on the runway last season and I have to say, I kinda love it. I'm in the market for a good pair of slouchy men's vintage pajamas right now, I've been trolling some of my favorite vintage places looking for them. Here's another version of it -- definitely jammie-reminiscent, and yet... doesn't it look like just the thing to wear to host a cocktail party? I love that loose, slouchy thing in a dressy fabric. It really speaks to me.


I'm dead crazy about this blouse. Don't know why exactly, except that it's just really, really good.


Ooooooooh, I need this coat. NEED this coat.

Here's my one big loser for this show:


Oh, dear. This is a pattern I am NOT down with -- this looks like Lady Macbeth's nightgown after her little visit to King Duncan. Seriously, does she not look like she's fleeing the scene of a murder, and a particularly gruesome one at that? Despite this, there is lots of great stuff in the collection, as there usually is.

So that's resort. Now for the resentment part. Honestly, I'm getting a little resentful of DvF's sizing. Specifically, that it is crazy-small. Illogically, depressingly small. I tried on a great DvF skirt this weekend, (the Cougarette, which is really terrific despite its awful name, especially in the azure blue this store had) and not for nothing, I had to go up THREE SIZES from the size I usually wear. Now, I understand that a number is just a number and getting hung up on the number on a tag will just make you miserable and cause you to possibly not purchase or even try on some clothes that you really should. Everyone has different sizes in her closet -- garments vary wildly from brand to brand, and even styles within brands can have different measurements. But the sizing on this skirt was so out of kilter with everything else I have (even the skinny Italian designer stuff!), and I find this to be true of her clothes in general, that it really kind of grated my cheese. I am on the smallish end of the sizing bell curve these days, and you could be a good amount bigger than I am and still be well within regular misses' sizes. You could not, however, be much bigger than I am and find this skirt in a size that fits you, I don't think. Someone who routinely wears a 12, for example, is no way going to fit into the DvF 12, and the sizing availability for this does not appear to extend past a 14. I'm not okay with that.

Also, I wish the hems would come down just a bit. I'm not sure I know a single adult female who's in love with the area right above her knees, and while I am never one to adhere slavishly to conventional wisdom, I do think there is an expiration date on a woman's free pass on wearing miniskirts. After a certain point (different for everyone, but usually dependably in the late 30's to early 40's), they are very, very mutton-dressed-as-lamb.

Of course, every designer is entitled to make his or her own decisions about how their garments are sized & whatnot. But I do typically find that American designers are more generous in their sizing than European ones, and despite Diane's fabulous, vaguely continental accent, she is an American designer -- she's lived in this country for many years, her company is based here, she's President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (for which organization she has done great work). Her design ethos has always been about the working American woman, and the unique sporty-chic that American women do better than anyone else. The whole raison d'etre of the wrap dress, the cornerstone of her design empire, was to be a garment that any woman could wear and look great in. It seems like making your clothes so teeny-tiny that many regular-sized women (let alone plus-sized ones) cannot fit into them flies in the face of this pretty blatantly.

It's not enough to make me stop loving (or wearing) DvF, at this point. But it does bug me. So Diane, darling, you fabulous, successful role model -- could you do us a favor? Could you revisit this one topic? I don't want you to change any of the other things you're doing -- the clothes, the activism, the swanning around the world looking impossibly glam and sophisticated while running a global fashion empire... Just, could you make the clothes a little bit bigger? I promise, it will mean you sell even more of them.

Photos: Style.com

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Anonymous said...

I agree Style Spy. I would love to own a DVF wrap dress, but need a size 14 or 16. I checked the merchandise at Nordstrom, and like you, was shocked at how small DVF's pieces are cut...She is missing out on many possible customers.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud when I came to that last dress--i've seen waaay too many CSI episodes to wear that!

The funny thing is--knowing how small she sizes her clothes (I have one of her dresses) when I ordered a long cardigan from her website a few months ago (on no-returns-super-sale) I ordered a large to make sure it would hang nicely. It's huge. Should have gone ahead and gotten my usual medium--who knew? Usually with the nicer brands, they may run large or small but they're consistant. So beware her sweaters if you think you need to size up!

Laura V said...

DvF sizing really grates my cheese. I love so many of her styles, but since I wear a 12 or 14 in most clothes...

Dear DvF: I am a successful professional with more disposable income than I know what to do with. I would love to give some of it to you in exchange for clothing, which I could then wear to after-work cocktails and other things that successful professionals need nice clothes for. Think about it.

Always In Style said...

I'd have to agree with you, and I love that scarf-looking dress the best, it's so unique!

Duchesse said...

Many years ago I stopped at a department store counter caring her (now defunct)cosmetic line and was stunned to see HER applying the product. She was intense, gorgeous and patting the face of a stocky, unglamourous woman, murmuring in that husky accent.She definitely had charisma. And there she was, merching the product. She's a businesswoman, all right.

I have a minor hobby bugging designers to make bigger sizes- let's go after her!

Anonymous said...

Nice fashion show..! Awesome collection of beautiful summer dresses.