DVF Wrap Dress 40th Anniversary

Diane von Furstenberg on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, September/October 1976
Vogue Patterns, September/October 1976. Image: Musings from Marilyn.

Diane von Fürstenberg’s wrap dress celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. The famous dress, which officially made its debut in January, 1974, is being fêted with Journey of a Dress, an exhibition of 200 wrap dresses at the Wilshire May Company building in Los Angeles:

DVF 40 - Journey of a Dress: An exhibition celebrating four decades of the dress that started it all, January 11 - April 1, 2014
Image: DVF.com.
Mannequins in wrap dresses at Journey of a Dress
Photo: Getty Images via Vogue.com.

Update: A catalogue of the LA exhibit is available from Rizzoli:

Diane von Furstenberg, Journey of a Dress (Rizzoli, 2014)
Diane von Furstenberg, Journey of a Dress (Rizzoli, 2014) Image: Rizzoli.

Von Fürstenberg relaunched her label in 1997 after realizing that her vintage wrap dresses were enjoying a new popularity among young women. The advertising campaign for the relaunch shows Danielle Z. in different wrap dresses, including this leopard print version (click the image for a style.com article with slideshow):

Diane Von Furstenberg advertising campaign, 1998
Diane Von Furstenberg advertising campaign, 1998. Model: Danielle Zinaich. Photo: Bettina Rheims. Image: Pinterest.

Vogue Patterns introduced Diane Von Furstenberg patterns with great fanfare in the fall of 1976. The designer herself modelled a wrap dress on the magazine cover, and there was even a special sew-in label and tie-in with Cohama fabrics. (More on the fabrics at The Vintage Traveler.)

Diane von Furstenberg for Vogue Patterns printed label
Diane Von Furstenberg for Vogue Patterns printed label. Image: Etsy.

The punning headline of the 1976 magazine feature, “The Princess and Her Prints,” refers to her first marriage to Egon von Fürstenberg, of the Prussian princes of Fürstenberg (she capitalized the ‘von’ for her label):

"The Princess and Her Prints..." Diane von Fürstenberg in Vogue Patterns, fall 1976
“The Princess and Her Prints…” Vogue Patterns, September/October 1976. Image: myvintagevogue.

Vogue’s Diane Von Furstenberg patterns included several wrap dresses. The 1970s patterns were all in the Very Easy Vogue line, and most were for stretchable knits.

The long-sleeved Vogue 1548 may be worn in two ways, forward or backward. The young Rene Russo is the model:

Rene Russo wears a 1970s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern - Vogue 1548
Vogue 1548 by Diane Von Furstenberg (1976) Image: Etsy.

Karen Bjornson models Vogue 1549, a wrap dress with buttoned cuffs and optional collar. This design also works for woven fabrics:

1970s Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern - Vogue 1549
Vogue 1549 by Diane Von Furstenberg (1976) Image: eBay.

The following year Vogue Patterns released a half-size version for petites, Vogue 1679. The first set of patterns was photographed by Chris von Wangenheim:

Chris von Wangenheim photos of Vogue 1548 in a 1976 Vogue Patterns editorial
Vogue 1548, Vogue Patterns, September/October 1976. Photos: Chris von Wangenheim. Image: myvintagevogue.
Chris von Wangenheim photos of Vogue 1549 and 1550 in a 1976 Vogue Patterns editorial
Vogue 1549 and 1550, Vogue Patterns, September/October 1976. Photos: Chris von Wangenheim. Image: myvintagevogue.

Here’s the back-wrap view of Vogue 1548 on the cover of the December catalogue:

1970s back-wrapped DVF wrap dress on the cover of Vogue Patterns' holiday catalogue
Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1976. Image: Vogue Patterns.

Vogue 1610 may be made sleeveless or short-sleeved with faux cuffs. I’ve made this for Naomi, and it’s incredibly versatile:

1970s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern - Vogue 1610
Vogue 1610 by Diane Von Furstenberg (c. 1977)

Vogue 1853 has full, cuffed sleeves in a choice of long or elbow length. Christie Brinkley modelled the long-sleeved version:

1970s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern - Vogue 1853
Vogue 1853 by Diane Von Furstenberg (c. 1978) Image: the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 2517, a colour-blocked, front-wrapped dress designed for two colour contrasts, was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. (This one is technically a mock-wrap dress.) The model is Chris Royer:

1980s Diane Von Furstenberg mock-wrap dress - Vogue 2517
Vogue 2517 by Diane Von Furstenberg (1980) Image: Rusty Zipper.

Tara Shannon models Vogue 1486, an ’80s wrap dress with pleated skirt, shaped hemline, and dolman sleeves:

1980s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern - Vogue 1486
Vogue 1486 by Diane Von Furstenberg (1984) Image: Etsy.

Discussions of the DVF wrap dress always seem to centre on questions of contemporary femininity. Even the promotional bio on the envelope flap promises dressmakers they’ll “feel like a woman”:

DIANE VON FURSTENGERG said "Feel like a woman ... wear a dress!" Then, she proceeded to design the kind of wonderfully wearable dresses that make you want to wear her dresses, night & day!

This Vogue Patterns editorial photo of the Vogue 1610 wrap dress similarly promotes the idea of femininity in the workplace. With the caption “Soft Dressing for Hard Schedules,” it shows Karen Bjornson, glasses in hand, being delivered flowers at the office:

Karen Bjornson sniffs a rose in V1610 by Diane Von Furstenberg - Vogue Patterns magazine, 1977
“Soft Dressing for Hard Schedules,” Vogue Patterns, 1977.

I was tickled to learn that Amy Adams wears three Diane Von Furstenberg dresses in American Hustle—two vintage and one contemporary. Apparently David O. Russell was obsessed with the green print version worn by von Fürstenberg on the cover of Newsweek, and costume designer Michael Wilkinson was able to source the vintage original for the film (see Financial Times story with slideshow here, or click the image for a Variety costumes story with video):

Amy Adams wears a green and white DVF wrap dress in American Hustle
Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) in American Hustle (2013) Image via Variety.

Have you sewn from a Diane Von Furstenberg pattern?

Update: Unfortunately Vogue can’t re-release these vintage patterns. But check out the McCall’s wrap dress blog posts for tips on getting the look.

12 thoughts on “DVF Wrap Dress 40th Anniversary

  1. An absolute classic! Every version is ideal. I have a few Vogue wrap dress patterns but no genuine DVF – I’m constantly on the look-out for the perfect fabric

  2. I saw American Hustle last night, and when Amy Adams’ character stepped out from behind the dry cleaning rack in the green dress, I just might have yelped “Diane Von Furstenberg!” aloud in the theater!

  3. What a wonderful synopsis of DvF and Vogue Patterns. I made 1610 back in the 1970s when I was in my twenties, and I made it again in the summer of 2012 (featured on my blog). Last Fall, after a frustrating search online for 1549 in my size, I used three other patterns to create the same look, and also featured that on my blog. Fortunately, back in the ’70s, I saved two of the DvF Vogue labels that I received with the pattern, and I was able to put one of them in my new version of 1610! What classic looks the Princess created – love!!

  4. Love this woman and her dress! I have one of her patterns and sewed up two dresses from it, but so wish my mum had not gotten rid of the rest of her 70s sewing patterns.

  5. I saw a segment on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ about the DVF exhibition either earlier the same day or the day before your post, and I usually never watch that show! So it was cool to see your post in my inbox.
    I love how the wrap dress was tweaked for the ’80s with the design of 1486. With just a change of the skirt shape and the addition of shoulder pads the wrap dress was suddenly updated for the ’80s without being changed much at all.
    I have 1486 and most of the other patterns pictured in my collection but I haven’t made anything from them yet. And I have to say that I didn’t pay the $75.00-$125.00 price that I’ve seen them listed for online!
    (BTW, I think the model of 2517 may be Chris Royer, but I may be wrong).

  6. Love them all! I agree Vogue 2517 is modeled by Chris Royer, who was a house favorite with Halston. I made 1610 back when it came out. I even bought the DVF printed jersey – the same print featured on the front of 1549. It was a disappointing thin cotton-poly. The pattern turned out great, but I was never happy with the fabric. It seemed cheap. I also owned a DVF dress. These were a much thicker rayon knit with more body; I also saw the dresses in an acrylic knit. I still have patterns 1610 & 1549. Thanks for the report!

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