Inside House of DVF:
Diane on Handling a Breakup

Spoiler alert! In House of DVF episode 5, Diane sat down with Hanna Beth to discuss her very public breakup. We asked Diane to recap her tried-and-true advice on how to heal a broken heart. 

It is natural, even inevitable, to be upset after a breakup, but it is important to hold on to your sense of self, and regain your perspective as quickly as you can. For Hanna Beth, she needed to step back and see that it was not a tragedy for this handsome actor to act jealous after their breakup—it was actually very flattering !

Whenever a door closes, another will open. Look at a breakup as a beginning, an opportunity, as opposed to a defeat. Also try to transform the relationship into a friendship, and those friendships can be lasting, intimate and very meaningful.

Breakups are never easy, but please don’t ever regret having loved. A breakup is a time to regroup, to remember that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Think of today as the first day of the rest of your life !


Coffee with Joffe:
A Lesson in Vulnerability

Spoiler alert! Each week, DVF Style Editor Jessica Joffe is debriefing Sunday night’s episode. Read more for her take on all the latest drama, but be sure to catch Episode 5 first! 

Ah kids! This may be one of the hardest lessons to teach and learn. How do you remain appropriate and poised in a professional environment without hiding what makes you human? Being an ambassador for any brand is not simply about your style or your social media following, not even how brand-appropriate you look or how many scintillating creative ideas you might have. Before all of that, what matters most is how well you represent that brand out there in the world, and that is about charm, approachability, sincerity, self-sufficiency and a mature, thoughtful way of ‘being yourself.’

If you squint, this episode is awash in tears. Everywhere you turn the girls are crying. Crying from being overwhelmed, crying from being exposed, crying out of loyalty (or over-identification), crying because they can’t afford designer clothes. Aside from steely Cat, who may yet show us a softer side, every one of the girl’s emotions gets the best of her. And yet during her private moment at the 9/11 Memorial, Diane tells Hanna Beth how much she appreciates her sudden vulnerability and candor. Remember when she asks Maytee and Cat to be more vulnerable? HB’s tears are finally what endear her to Diane. And I understand why. Hanna Beth is opening up and letting her in, albeit gingerly. Diane wants to know the girls, and so do I. The more honestly each girl can be herself the more confidence she can have. Know thyself! Both good and bad, weak and strong! That does not mean you can collapse into a puddle of tears because you don’t like someone or because you aren’t getting what you want, but to show yourself truly is the sign of great strength and a strong woman is a DVF woman.

All that said, I like the moments where the girls can’t help but be themselves, and Hanna Beth is finally finding her stride within the group. I still haven’t spent much time with her, but I know there’s a lot underneath her reticent exterior.

Alli is a true contender. For how unreasonably she dresses, she is the most reasonable emotionally and socially. She even manages to push her design through and while it’s not truly “on brand” she took the earlier criticism, adjusted her idea and made the best of it. It’s fun to spend some time with her in her hilariously messy room. She is living life to the fullest and enjoying her time in New York. We talk about her personal life and play dress up when the cameras stop rolling. I am not sure what those bleating noises I make are all about, but I’m confused that girls always feel the need to cry about clothes in my presence. In those moments I evidently lose my grasp of the English language. Allie has so much going for her, I really don’t care if she’s got a closet full of DVF or not. If she becomes our brand ambassador she’ll be drowning in it!

Vulnerability may only be something you can understand as a strength the older you are, but the sooner the girls realize we really want to know and see all of who they are – instead of what they assume we want to see – the better they will perform and the better they will feel about the work they do in the program.


Inside House of DVF:
Fall Fashion

On this week’s episode of House of DVF, the girls channeled global cities with looks from the Fall Collection and carefully chosen locations around New York City. In honor of the challenge, we asked each candidate to share her selections, as well as the Fall runway look that best suits her personal style. Scroll through for the final images from the challenge, and check out their picks below!

Alli’s Paris look starts with a lace-embellished wrap, a luxe fur and chic double zip satchel. She adds a Mika heel, gold collar and red gloves to transform herself from Alli from the Valley to the epitome of European chic. Her dream runway style? It’s filled with jacquard, fur and lips of course! Check out the DVF Brookes parka (also a Diane favorite) here.

Stylist Cat had no trouble presenting her favorite runway style—an oversized mink sweatshirt—as an eclectic London look, with a chiffon skirt for contrast and a bold cocktail ring. She added a fur pom to a ladylike tote, and plenty of her signature attitude.

Chantal went super luxe for her Dubai moment, pairing an intricately beaded wrap gown with the bag of the moment, and a gilded heel. Her runway choice was similarly glamorous: a floor length black gown with a plunging v-back sophisticated enough for this ex-Voguette.

Hanna Beth channeled cosmopolitan Hong Kong with a super editorial look: a mixed print jumpsuit and a Voyage tote, though her favorite runway look was actually Cat’s choice for the challenge. Finally the girls are aligned on something!

Leigh’s research on São Paulo may have led her astray, but her style instincts were on point: Brazilian women love color! Leigh accessorized an Irina wrap with a cerise Secret Agent, a layered necklace, a snake print heel and multiple pops of our fresh lips print. Though for her own dream look, her choice was the same as Chantal’s: the DVF Anais, a perfect mix of drama and glamour.


The Power Print

Let’s get straight to the point: separates are the easiest way to mix up a wardrobe. A pinstripe trouser adds movement to a solid sweater, while a sheer striped top can dress up jeans in a flash. For a real power play, wear these separates together, with a strong heel, a Secret Agent tote and a colorful lips scarf to announce your arrival in style.



Inside House of DVF:
Sew Sketchy’s Take on the Design Challenge

The girls on House of DVF were recently challenged to dream up a design for DVF—and sketch their vision to show Diane and her team. For an outsider’s opinion on their work, we turned to the ultimate illustrated insider, the fabulous Sew Sketchy

Tell us a little bit about who you are.
I’m a New York fashionista with a really sassy attitude who is cursed with good taste. I’m as versatile as Bergdorfs, as experimental as Barneys, as practical as Bloomingdale’s and as irrational as Macy’s. I’m a 9-to-5 Carrie with a Charlotte sensibility and a splash of Samantha on a Saturday night. I have never had a Miranda moment ever. The first thing I do when I wake up is greet my closet. My clothes are like my children. I was raised by a pack of glamazons, and was always taught that more is more and less is a bore and that everything goes with leopard.

For some of our Brand Ambassador candidates, the design challenge was their first time sketching! Being a veteran, what did you think about the candidate’s work?
I was actually really impressed by some of the design proposals the girls put together and really confused by some of the others. Some girls totally got it and came up with really chic ideas. I loved Hanna Beth’s romper idea—I would buy that in a second! I also loved Cat’s idea where she drew a chic twist in the back of a dress—that I’d also wear. These specific sketches were very clear to read and well explained which is why they both really stood out to me.

The girls are constantly balancing being true to themselves and being on-brand as a potential face for DVF. How do you approach mixing your own aesthetic with a brand’s identity when you style an outfit?
It’s all about attitude, and the components you add to a look to make it your own. Whether you’re preppy, minimalist, or grungy,  it’s the accessories that you adorn yourself with that make something anyone can wear different, stylish and unique.

What’s the DVF look you’d love to wear next?
That parka jacket with the sparkly lips that Diane was wearing in the episode—my god that look is flawless. As you can probably tell, I love a statement piece and I always wear something that’s a head turner or that says “Hello, I have arrived.”

Is there a candidate whose sketching or design idea really stood out to you?
Leigh was the one candidate who really stood out to me. I thought to myself, Wow, water coloring and putting this all together on a plane? That’s major—snaps for her! She reminded me of myself when I was working at Vogue. I loved her hustle and her make it work attitude, especially because she didn’t make a scene about the rough circumstances she was in while completing the project. She just got it done, and you know what? Her idea was chic, simple, and sellable. I think she nailed it.

Was there anyone you would have sent home based on their sketching skills or design? Any suggestions on how she could have approached the design challenge differently?
The designs that Cree made were just a projection of her vision and design aesthetic that had really nothing to do with DVF’s brand voice. The first thing she should have looked at is what the brand stands for, which to me, is effortless elegance. DVF exudes femininity by utilizing powerful prints and streamlined silhouettes. Second, she should have really focused on the customer, and the customer’s needs. DVF is a go-to brand for women who want to put on one outfit that is bold, beautiful, easy to wear, and is suitable for a variety of occasions, ages and body types. Cree’s outfits didn’t consider the multifaceted brand that DVF truly is.

You gained a major, and high-profile, following very quickly while staying true to yourself. Any advice for these girls who are trying to make an impact in the fashion world?
If you’re trying to make an impact in the fashion world, don’t be one of those poser fashion people. They freak me out and bore me. Being in the fashion industry is like being in the Hunger Games but worse. Only the strong survive it. You have to be true to yourself, and true to your aesthetic. Embrace criticism only from the people you admire, not the masses. In order to make an impact, do something that no one else is doing and listen to your instincts. Oh, and always keep your sense of humor.


The Fall Freya

It’s the time of year for dramatic weather, from early sunsets to full on storms. We’re following nature’s cue with this mauve-and-blue floral that’s perfectly moody, minus the rain. On our drawstring Freya dress—a staple that’s just right for alternating between bare legs and wool tights—these muted tones feel subtle and chic. Keep things streamlined throughout the season with a clean pump and a bit of shimmer, courtesy of bold but simple jewelry, and an envelope clutch in pale stardust.


Coffee with Joffe:
A Lesson in Self-Awareness

Spoiler alert! Each week, DVF Style Editor Jessica Joffe is debriefing Sunday night’s episode. Read more for her take on all the latest drama, but be sure to catch Episode 4 first! 

We have now reached the point in the program where we entrust the girls with truly public-facing tasks as a group. We need to see how they are able to work together, how well they’ve understood the brand message and how well they can sell the brand—literally and figuratively. As Diane says: the brand ambassador role is all about selling. It would seem that the girls have now been immersed deeply enough in our culture to know a thing or two about what to do, how to carry themselves, how to treat each other, but it is clear they are still struggling.  This might be an opportune moment to step back and talk about an attribute most of our gals seem to be lacking: self-awareness.

Self-awareness means humility, because it means facing your own shortcomings as well as your strengths. And while some of the girls are still under the impression that unmitigated ambition will propel them toward the finish line fastest, it is really their willingness to acknowledge their flaws and work on bettering themselves that will see them through. Each of the girls brings a unique set of talents, personality traits and foibles to the table, but since it seems like the girls have mistaken self-analysis for navel-gazing, it’s no surprise they can’t hear our (or each other’s) constructive criticism as anything other than effrontery.

Cree, Cat and Chantal – as different as they are temperamentally – are the biggest culprits. They really seem to have very little awareness of their internal and external affect. They know they want something, but they don’t know what that something is. Cree wants to heal people but she prefers plants to human beings. Cat wants to win the title but she doesn’t see how many people she’s aggravating on her way there. Chantal feels like she’s getting short-changed but she doesn’t know what she has to offer except “me” and an exceptionally close bond with her mother. Blame it on the “DVF black-out,” the paralysis that sets in when confronted with the ultimate authority figure, but these girls are out of their depth. I am sympathetic to the enormous pressure they’re under, and recognize their deep desire to do this their own, unique way, but they still have a long way to go before we can feel confident about calling any one of them our brand ambassador. It’s not surprising that Cree takes herself out of the running – this job really isn’t for her – but she’s graceful about it at every step along the way, and I salute her for it.

The girls who make the least noise are starting to prove their mettle and leave a good impression: the irrepressibly charming Alli from the Valley is a hard worker, rarely a complainer and always diplomatic, and Hanna Beth who may be shy, but is self-aware. She knows what requires improvement, and she’s not going to put her foot in her mouth while she figures out the lay of the land. She stakes her claim in the group without being disruptive. I want to see more of that.

The girls have a long way to go. Perhaps they all need to take a moment and let the words of our Vision Expo buyer sink in: “You have to remember: it’s not all about you!”


Inside House of DVF:
Stefani Greenfield’s Top 5 Tips on Selling (Yourself!)

Our Brand Ambassador candidates recently showed that selling doesn’t necessarily come naturally! We asked Stefani Greenfield for her top tips on how to be the best you while representing a brand. It’s a must-read for anyone in sales—not to mention helpful advice for everyday life from our always-fabulous Creative Brand Director!

Speak in We/Our terms. “We feel strongly about this style.” “Our brand vision for the season is…” THERE IS NO I IN TEAM. You are not the brand, you are there to represent and support its mission.

Study! Come prepared. The only way to be respected as an authority is to authentically know your “stuff.” Smile and generate positive and contagious energy!

Do not allow personal issues to divert you from executing a task. Especially when interacting with clients. The only show they came to see is the brand’s!

Ask direct and relevant questions. Provide succinct and applicable answers. If you start randomly rambling, you will be “locking out” your audience.

First impressions can set the tone for an entire experience. Do not OVER impose your personal style while representing the brand’s values and image. You will never lose yourself by following a brand’s roadmap and guidelines.


Spoiler Alert! A House of DVF Candidate Goes Home

A second candidate is already out of the running to become the next DVF Brand Ambassador! In this exclusive clip, she looks back and shares what she brought to the table, what she learned, and why she’s really on her way home.


The Incognito Coat

Filled with old school glamour and mystery, we’re in love with this look that channels a young Tippi Hedren. Our Incognito coat plays a starring role, naturally, with soft bouclé sides, a painted canvas front, and an oversized collar perfect for turning up against the elements or paparazzi glare. The classic belted shape demands ladylike accessories, like our favorite Mika platform heel, rounded sunglasses, and a sleek Secret Agent tote. We’ll be wearing this stunning coat all winter, slipping it over a slim black pant, a soft wrap, and even a dramatic gown embellished in birds of silk, velvet and lace.


In Conversation:
Fashion Illustrator Michelle Vella

When did you start making portraits?
I started playing with painting portraits at the end of February; actually Diane was my subject very early on but it wasn’t until this year that I started to discover my personal trademark style. As an artist you need to be your true self and not a recreation of another artist’s style. I worked hard at this, going back and forth with techniques, mediums and styles and eventually it just happened. I was inspired by the portrait work of Francesco Clemente, and fell in love with how he depicted people with such big eyes. Now, fast forward to the moment I am waiting to meet with Diane von Furstenberg and sitting beneath a portrait of her by Francesco himself—I had to pinch myself.

Fashion illustration and portraiture have returned to prominence in the past few years. What do you think accounts for this rise, and what has it meant for your work?
Being so new in this industry, I can’t pretend to know why the rise in popularity of fashion illustration but from personal experience, I attribute it to the power of Instagram. It’s an amazing tool where a totally unknown Toronto artist like myself can find herself live illustrating for W Magazine at New York Fashion Week and meeting Diane von Furstenberg. By painting portraits of people in fashion you are able to get their attention and the attention of their followers.

In January of this year, I was inspired by posting on Instagram at @michellevellart and quickly became obsessed with drawing and posting my work on Instagram everyday. This is how Diane discovered me and started following me. She simply said that she wanted my portrait for her collection; you can imagine my excitement.

Tell us a bit about your technique, and what makes your work distinctive.
My distinctive style, “high art caricature,” is instantly recognizable for the big eyes brushed with long eye lashes extending well beyond the frame of the face. I start with a line drawing in marker, then paint over it with acrylic paint. I usually paint on paper but also paint on canvas and other surfaces including leather and fabrics.

What inspired you to paint Diane?
A friend suggested I read Diane’s book as well as paint her, so I did both. I looked through many photos of her and decided on this portrait. To me it said that she is the woman she wanted to be and empowered me to be just that for myself. I felt empowered as I could connect with Diane’s independent nature while being inspired by her honesty, energy, and love of life.

I was a portrait photographer turned graphic designer for the past 15 years, so finding a new creative outlet as a fashion illustrator and artist at 50 has been life changing.


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