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Diane von Furstenberg explains why her wrap dress is still iconic after 50 years

Diane von Furstenberg has wrapped dynamic, compelling, and powerful women for decades in a capsule garment that embodies their taste for sophistication and thrill. Now, on the 50th anniversary of the designer’s signature “wrap dress,” she’s opened up about the iconic nature of the piece.

In conversation with Elle, von Furstenberg explained how her original 1974 design has already become a timeless artifact in fashion.

“I don’t think it has happened to a dress before, and even more remarkable than that is if you go to any store, anywhere in the world, you will find some that may have had two or three generations of wearers, which is a sign of sustainability and timelessness,” she told the outlet.

The 77-year-old Belgian artist was 27 years old when she came up with the style seen on every female figure from Kim Kardashian to the Princess of Wales and Michelle Obama. She noted that the concept started as a top, inspired by the athletic apparel commonly worn by dancers. A year later, the piece was expanded to a full-length dress.

“That dress has sold for 50 years, all the time. I cannot explain it. The quality of the fabric is great. The core of the fabric is 100 per cent silk, which is an expensive fabric but is indestructible,” von Furstenberg said. “You wear the dress, it’s not the dress that wears you. I have no problem thinking that my dresses are uniforms for the women in charge.”

“And I’m perfectly happy making uniforms,” she continued.

If the muse for the dress is motivated women, then von Furstenberg herself is a quintessential model. The talented creative has not only crafted an irrevocable mould but offered a token of feminine influence. More than that, she’s offered odes to the environment with her prints.

She remarked: “The two things that inspire me in life are women and nature, and with the wrap dress, I honour women and I honour nature. The secret of my prints is that they’re light.”

“They have movement. If you see a leopard [dress], the print moves around the body, or if you see the bark of a tree, it’s not geometric; it moves,” von Furstenberg went on to say. “For me, the beauty of a woman is three things: eye contact, smile, and body language. The wrap dress completely, totally moulds you and gives you a body language that happens without you even realising it.”

To honour the dress’s anniversary, von Furstenberg is proving its outstanding effect once again with a limited-edition drop, entitled “Wrap 50.” The collection includes a New York Times crossword print filled with the designer’s notable sayings, as well as a revival of the Python print.

The crossword fabric, though it’s in part made to look like the popular newspaper puzzle, was thought of by von Furstenberg last year when the Met Gala celebrated Karl Lagerfeld.

On the idea for the print, she noted: “It started last year when, for the Met Gala, we were supposed to honour Karl Lagerfeld. So I thought, how do I honor Karl? I drew a print that had all the words that are Karl, like ‘Chloé’ and ‘Chanel’ and ‘Choupette,’ his cat.”