CNBC Meets

Thought flares dominated 1970s fashion? Think again

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said the launch of her iconic "wrap dress" design in 1974 just a few years after she started designing not only had a major impact on the fashion industry, but also on her life, as it gave her a financial security she had never had before.

Von Furstenberg, who was backed early on by former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, said the success of the design enabled her to pay her way.

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14th May 1974: Left to right: Artist Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987), fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and actor Monique Van Vooren. Von Furstenberg is wearing one of her own designs, a leopard print wrap-dress.
Tim Boxer I Hulton Archive I Getty Images

"When I created the wrap dress in 1974 I had no idea that it would have such an impact on me first which it did because it paid for all my bills and my children's educations and my house," von Furstenberg told Tania Bryer for "CNBC Meets".

"It just happened at a time that women were beginning to work and that little dress that was both feminine but empowered them became a symbol of that time and became a symbol of women's emancipation," she said.

By 1976, just two years after the launch of the design, originally a cotton jersey shirt dress with a ballerina-style wrap-around that ties at the waist, she had sold over a million pieces. At just 29 years old she was featured on the cover of Newsweek, with the magazine dubbing her the "most marketable woman since Coco Chanel".

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Over 40 years after the design was created, the DVF brand, which launched some 18 years later, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with around 100 DVF retail outlets in 55 countries.

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes said von Furstenberg's "legacy" will be that famous design.

"Like it or not, for Diane her legacy is going to be the little wrap dress. I think she should be happy about that, because it's done so much for women, it's a dress that can be worn so easily by so many women," she told CNBC.

CNBC Meets: Diane von Furstenberg will air on 26 May at 23:00 CET