Diane von Furstenberg receives Légion d’Honneur from Christine Lagarde
They fêted Diane von Furstenberg in Paris on Friday night as she received the Légion d’Honneur from President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde in a touching and tumultuous ceremony inside the Quai d’Orsay.
Few people are more popular in fashion than von Furstenberg, and fewer still have her high-wattage pulling power. Jeff Bezos, Seth Meyers, Christiane Amanpour, Anna Wintour, Larry Gagosian, Christian Louboutin and Jonathan Newhouse attended. Plus, a couple of Elkanns – John and Lapo – and a pair of Arnaults – Delphine and Antoine – and a plethora of younger pals – from Julie de Libran to influencer Caroline Daur. There was even the odd figure with a whiff of ill repute, like François-Marie Banier, the balding dandy and central figure in the Bettencourt scandal.
In her speech, Lagarde extolled DVF’s unique career; her creation of the wrap dress, her role as president of the CFDA and her leadership in the renovation of the Statue of Liberty, originally a gift of the people of France to the United States.
“Along the way you also experienced some difficult moments which can also happen to women in charge, but you drew strength and started again [...] in a life journey characterized by a determination to carry on and, in difficult times, to stay the course,” said the blonde Lagarde with a steely gaze, dressed in a purple DVF pantsuit.
“You are one of the most generous people in the funny world of fashion, and I don’t know much about it. But, in the support of women’s struggles, the most important elegance, is the elegance of the heart,” added Lagarde, noting that DVF’s “wonderful foundation” had supported such diverse fighters for human rights as Anita Hill and Jane Goodall, the primate expert.
In response, DVF reminded everyone why she is known for being such a class act with her first sentence. “To receive this honor from you is as much an honor as the honor itself,” she said to cheers.
“Your leadership is exceptional, a fantastic journey. The first women to be minister of finance in a G7 country. The first women head of the IMF […] Former member of the French synchronized swimming team, and synchronization proved very helpful in the 2008 financial crisis. Mother of two sons, and partner of a very sexy man!” she expounded to much laughter.
Turning to praising Paris, and gesturing out the window to the Seine, she continued.
“Paris is a city of women, a city of elegance, a city where you want to go to cafés, and to bookshops and to have… hidden affairs,” she said to much applause.
While sailing last summer, she explained, von Furstenberg received a letter from French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with the news of the award, just as she was finishing a four-volume biography of Napoleon.
“It was Napoleon who created this award in 1802 to recognize those who fought had for civil rights and shown military courage. And I have never been terribly military,” said DVF, who was joined by her son Alex, her grandchildren and her brother, as well as multiple other relatives from Brussels, where she was born, and a lot of love from her friends for this truly unique woman.
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