Friday, February 29, 2008

DVF: A *What* of One's Own?

Last week the New York Times Style Magazine, Women’s Fashion, spring 2008, ran a brief feature on designers who use themselves as their muse. Accompanying the image of each designer in his/her own design was a blurb that connected the designer’s personal style to the clothes he/she made.

Diane Von Furstenberg was one of the featured designers, and her blurb reads as follows:

"Proof that you can have it all, she puts femininity, aristocratic glamour and empowerment in one lioness-maned package. Her aura imbues dresses with the promise of a Barry Diller of one’s own (my emphasis)."

What exactly is a Barry Diller of one’s own?

The journalist here draws on the language of Virginia Woolf, who famously stated in 1929 that if a woman is to be creative, she needs £500, perhaps given to her by an aunt, and a room of one’s own.

Woolf was arguing that women could not express their creativity unless they were financially independent from the drudgery of hard work, unless they were free from the demands of children and husbands. A room of one’s own thus symbolizes the financial and social freedom that women need if they are to turn their minds to being creative.

In invoking this classic phrase, the New York Times turns it on its head: a Barry Diller of one’s own is an excessively wealthy husband who has the financial and social clout to finance his wife’s collection. In short, he’s a sugar daddy.

Is this, then, the path for the wonderfully smart women in the world—to find a rich husband who will enable their creativity? Or might women use their own considerable skills to make a different sort of business deal—one that involves handshakes at the boardroom table instead of pillow talk?

Woolf, in 1929, suggested that financial independence come from a matrilineal line of women helping women. It’s ironic that some 80 years later, we’re being directed to find a rich guy.

Let’s follow Jane Austen, and marry for love, but do business where it should be done: at the office.


Anonymous said...

So ridiculous....wasn't she successful long before Barry Diller was on the scene?

It's very depressing how things have regressed so much for women. And the fact that most young women don't know any better or differently.

K.Line said...

You gotta love an article that espouses symbolic prostitution! The interesting thing is that, as far as I know, DVF was from a totally wealthy background to begin with, which somewhat obviates her need to hook up with a billionaire. Not that it hurts being nauseatingly, hideously, miserably rich rather than just really flush.

miss cavendish said...

That's exactly the frustrating part: DVF was already a fashion force before she married Diller. The NYT takes an accomplished woman and transforms her into a dependent.

enc said...

You said it. She never needed that guy, and became famous and successful due to her dresses way before she married Diller.