Diane von Fürstenberg (born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin) is a Belgian-American fashion icon best known for her wrap dress design. She was born December 31, 1946 in Brussels, Belgium to a Moldovian-born father and a Greek-born mother. Diane’s mother, Lily Nahmias, was a holocaust survivor. Lily was part of the resistance efforts against the Nazis and forged papers to help other Jews leave. She was arrested in Belgium and sent to Auschwitz in May of 1944. Lily survived 13 months in Auschwitz and Ravensbruck and was able to return home. She then met her husband, Leon Halfin, who had hid in Switzerland during the war. “I still to this day cannot believe my own mother was there,” said Diane at the New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, where she was being honored at its 20th Annual Heritage Dinner. Diane states that her mother’s advice motivates her to celebrate her own life and freedom.
Diane was the child she never thought she could have, and her mother often said that she survived so she could give life to her daughter. The designer recalled her saying, “You are my torch of freedom,” then added, “As my mother is no longer here, I realized that actually that explains so much the woman that I am and the woman that I became.”
“I used to feel great admiration watching my mother get dressed to go out she looked at herself in the mirror with a smile of confidence,” the fashion designer wrote.
Von Fürstenberg said, “If I ever feel too lazy to do a chore, if I hesitate to go out because of the cold, I remember my mother.”
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Contributor: Lauren Shain