Even though I’m not into fashion design, I recently decided to take Diane von Furstenburg’s class on building a fashion brand because Diane built one of the biggest, most iconic brands in the world that has remained relevant for decades. She’s not only a fashion designer, she’s a visionary entrepreneur. I knew there was so much I could learn from her from a branding and business perspective as a creative.
In the class’s introduction, she states:
“This class is about how to build a fashion brand but it is also about how to design your life. Because when you are at the beginning of your life, it is very important to dream and to think about what you will do. And you may have an idea for a product and you may build around that, but you have to remember, as you design your product, you also design your life and it is equally as important to understand that.”
Diane has always captivated me with her strength, vision, and grace. I wasn’t disappointed with this class. Though there was a lot of content on fashion design that I skipped over (which I’m sure would be very valuable to someone interested in that field), I got a lot of value from the sections that were more business-focused.
Here are some of my favorite takeaways on confidence, branding, and failure from Diane von Furstenberg’s MasterClass.
Words of Wisdom from Diane von Furstenberg
On Focusing On Your Intention
“So, the first advice is that the most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. The second one, which is really really important, is to focus on your intention. It’s very important. I take tai chi and my tai chi master told me that a lot of people go to tai chi class because they want to be strong. If you only focus on your strength and your power, you will get hurt and fail. If you only focus on your energy, you will stagnate. But if you spend a lot of time focusing on your intention and polishing this intention and questioning it and really focus on that, then you will get the energy and the power. So, whatever decision you make, whatever steps you go, it’s very important to focus on your intention.”
On Being True to Yourself
“I can never say enough the importance of being true to yourself. And how does one become true to herself? Well, it’s practice. It’s every day. It’s just you cannot lie to yourself, ever. And it’s hard but you have to. You have to accept who you are. You have to figure out what you want, how you want it. It’s like pruning or cleaning the pipes. It’s an every day [thing]. You have to prune the trees however often, you have to clean the pipes however often. You have to be close to yourself, you have to be close to who you are, what you want, how you want, and not be delusional because no matter, no matter what happens – failure, success, what – you will always be with yourself. And therefore, you have to be your best friend. You have to count on yourself first. You can be helped, you can guided, you can be mentored, you can be all of that. But at the end, you have the keys to your destiny and that is important.”
“I think it’s very important to follow your instincts and follow what you like. There’s no way to know that what you are doing is right. You just have to pay attention to your surroundings, to what’s going on, to what you want to do, and it’s your journey. So you have to live your journey the best you can. Try to realize your dreams. Somewhere along the line, you will meet obstacles. You have to pay attention to these obstacles. Is this because it’s supposed to tell me that I should turn left, or that I can’t do this, or should I push? I mean, it’s your life, it’s your journey, and if you are truly honest with yourself, and strict with yourself, and demanding on yourself, you’ll be fine.”
“We always talk about the woman across the room. The woman across the room, you look at her and you think, “oh, my God, she’s so confident, look at her, everything about her is perfect.” She doesn’t feel it. For her, you are the woman across the room! So remember that. Remember that at all times.”
“The first step in order to be confident is you have to be real. You have to be true to yourself. Because the truer you are to yourself, the easier it will be to be confident.”
On Knowing Your Brand DNA
“Your personality or the personality of the product comes out and that is what you call a brand DNA. Stand for something and stick to it. Even if you’re bored with it. Stick to it, find babies, have them make babies, derivatives, change it, but always stick to your DNA.”
“Everything you do is at the service of the brand. The brand is what is the house that you put everything you do in and therefore, the architecture of the house, the decoration of the house, the flowers in the house, the food in the house, everything in the house should say the same thing: your message.”
“In such a saturated marketplace, you stand out if you have something unique. You stand out if you speak to people in their heart or if you create desire. If you really want to do that, then you have to offer something unique and you have to offer it in a unique way and you have to be as honest and as direct and as truest to yourself as you possibly can.”
“Paying attention is one of the most valuable things and most compassionate things you can do. Pay attention to who you are talking to, they are a person. Listen to what they say and then you will learn. So paying attention is a way to connect and if you open yourself then they will open themselves and connecting is important.”
Books by Diane:
On Mistakes and Failure
“I had huge successes and huge failures. But the reason that I want to share it is to encourage people to say, it’s okay to make mistakes. And the only reason why I was able to survive is because I was always honest. I never lied. When I did things wrong I said it. And I think that at the end, it’s all about the product and the consumer. And the closer you put the product to the consumer and the more authentic you are and the more real you are, the longer you will last.”
“The most important thing to understand about success and failures is that they live together at all times.”
“Setbacks and failures are part of what everybody has. So the most important thing to remember is facing the truth. Right now, I am failing, why am I failing? And how can I change it? And by the time you change it, you change something – you change a pattern, you change a way of doing things – you turn around, you don’t even remember that that good idea started because of a setback. So you have to remember: all successful people, all their success started from frustration.”
“As you look at me as this really, really successful person, I can tell you that not any later than last week, I was feeling very low. I was feeling like a total loser because I was facing difficulty because I was looking at having made mistakes and having to pay for my mistakes and because I am very hard on myself, I felt like a loser. And most of the people that I know who are successful, often feel like losers. So don’t feel bad about it. Just do something about it.”