‘Godmother’ of Fashion Takes on a Philanthropic State of Mind
Does the name Diane von Furstenberg ring a bell? Most known for her elegant fashion designs and hefty price tags, the Belgium-born American fashion designer turned in her creative director role last year to Jonathan Saunders and is entering her next phase of life with a philanthropic state of mind.
Back in October 2016, Von Furstenberg signed on as chair of a campaign to build the new Statue of Liberty Museum, which has a target goal of $100 million. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, in conjunction with the National Park Service and Phelps Construction Group, will build the new 26,000-square-foot museum on Liberty Island, which has a projected completion date of 2019. As “godmother” of the campaign, von Furstenberg has already raised $74 million.
Von Furstenberg calls this next phase of her life the fulfillment stage via Seattle Times:
“I always used to say that life has three moments. One is development, until about [age] 30, one is enjoyment and then the third, the last season of your life, is somehow about fulfillment.”
In addition to her efforts to raise money for the Statue of Liberty Museum campaign, she has been focused on projects promoting women. While she speaks to groups of women and is a board member of the women’s leadership organization Vital Voices, she also wrote a letter during Fashion Week that encouraged designers to avoid displaying women who are “too thin and clearly starving themselves to death.” She also honored three women for their activism during the Women’s March: Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards and Janelle Monae. According to the Seattle Times, von Furstenberg said, “Fashion is a reflection of our time. The Women’s March was a very major thing—there’s really a sense of activism that has happened. So it was natural to give them this award.”
It’s no doubt that von Furstenberg has built an empire around her name, which, of course, includes fame and fortune. But let me ask you this, how important are those things if you don’t feel fulfilled? The majority of you will agree that it’s not worth much. Why would you be in this field of work otherwise? Take it from the fashion designer herself:
“All my life was about creating a product, fashion, something [women] could use to be the woman they want to be, and now in my third act, I want to use my voice to help women be the woman they want to be, but from the inside. Because it doesn’t matter how successful and powerful women are … sometimes you wake up in the morning and you feel like a total loser. I know I do.” — Diane von Furstenberg
Nhu Te is senior content manager at Fundraise Up, the AI-powered online donation platform for enterprise nonprofits. In her work, she focuses on helping nonprofits create more impact through personalized donor relations, digital fundraising and thoughtful use of technology.