Wednesday, 3 December 2014

'Don't be a B': 6 fashion and life lessons from Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg flanked by the young women vying to be DVF’s global brand ambassador.

Diane von Furstenberg flanked by the young women vying to be DVF’s global brand ambassador.

If you want to succeed in the fashion life, you better listen to Diane von Furstenberg.

Hello, my name is William and I’m a reality show junkie. I watch almost everything from The Amazing Race and Project Runway to Got To Dance and Masterchef Australia (my fave!). The only show I steer clear of is the Real Housewives franchise as I find the “housewives” spoilt, whiny and unbearable. Plus, my heart aches from the amount of wine they waste by tossing it in each other’s faces.

Anyway, my latest obsession is House Of DVF (Tuesday, 11pm, E!, Astro). It’s about legendary designer Diane von Furstenberg – referred to simply as DVF – and her search for a new brand ambassador. Once named the most powerful woman in fashion by Forbes, Diane is renowned for her iconic wrap dress and signature prints. Taking on the world of reality TV, Diane, 67, mentors a generation of new women ready to take their careers to the next level.

The series takes viewers on the chance-of-a-lifetime journey for eight young ladies vying for the position of DVF global brand ambassador. Casting-wise, it’s brilliant. There’s Lenore, a Staten Island girl with unfiltered catchphrases and florescent chokers; Kier, a busty and arrogant blogger; Codi, a sweet but clueless Mormon; and Tiffani, a tattooed Bronx contestant and the youngest cast member.

Each week, one contestant get sacked. Rejected contestants receive a DVF gift bag from Diane herself, complete with an autographed book, some candy and "a whole lot of love". As a boss, Diane is stern yet motherly. She offers hugs and tissues where necessary, but throws out whithering stares and tough love when needed. Make no mistake, Diane is the star of the show and she owns every scene.

While the series is good at capturing every pressure-filled and triumphant moment, the most invaluable are Diane’s nuggets of wisdom. If you want to succeed in fashion, you’d better listen. Here are Diane’s most important “life lessons” to get you through some workplace challenges.

#1: “Don’t be a b***h.”
“Why does everyone think you’re a b***h?” said no-nonsense Diane to Kier, wanting to get to the bottom of why Kier was so hated by the others. There’s no denying that brash and unlikeable Kier gets things done, but if she wants to win Diane over and the game, girl needs to tone her aggression down.

#2: “Be confident. Don’t be cocky.”
Ever-pretentious Rhianna insists she’s spent more than US$500,000 (that's RM1.6mil) on her wardrobe. And because she speaks French, she keeps showing it off. As a result, she was the first one sent packing – yay! Proof that you can’t put a price on humility. Or tact.

#3: “Simplify. Simplify!”
Diane delivered that sage advice to Lenore after her awful neon yellow choker faux pas. “Style doesn’t come to you naturally,” Diane sniffed at the poor girl. Kier was also reprimanded when she adorned her hair with an oversized gold foil bow that could only be pulled off by Minnie Mouse.

#4: “If you don’t know what to say, go hide yourself.”
Diane warned the girls about this as they met with important editors at a DVF press presentation. Which leads us to ...

#5: “Don’t talk about yourself too much.”
Tiffani made the mistake of talking a lot about herself when the spotlight should have been on the collection. None of the magazines were interested in her life story or her tattoos. They were there for the DVF caftans and wrap dresses. In the end, the youngest of the group walked out with the ever-growing gift bag after being considered “too green”.

#6: “My religion is truth.”
“The truth is, my religion is truth,” Diane mused. “That’s what I practise. And it’s a big job to practise truth. But if you do it every day, it’s like pruning a tree. It’s wonderful.” Yes, honesty hurts sometimes and it can make grown women break down in tears, but Diane believes it'll help them to grow. You know what she's thinking: "What doesn’t kill you... "

■ William hopes to work for DVF someday. He'll probably get fired on the first day, but at least he’ll get a gift bag. Send your feedback to

Tags / Keywords: The New Black , fashion , columnist , DVF

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