All you need to know about Own It
Here’s why you really need Diane von Furstenberg’s guide and manifesto for personal growth
Diane von Furstenberg was born on New Year’s Eve, December 31 in 1946. “For me, when the year is over, it is really over—a very clean cut,” she writes in her new book Own It: The Secret to Life. “That day, I finish a diary and start a fresh one on January 1, with new resolutions on new blank, white pages. It is orderly, a ritual that punctuates the year, and I love it.”
This and other rituals have proven to be remarkably effective. Von Furstenberg is best known as a hugely successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and fashion designer; her wrap dresses were incredibly popular in the early 1970s; in a 1976 cover story, Newsweek declared her 'the most remarkable woman since Coco Chanel’, and she was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 2006 until 2019.
Nevertheless, her love of words equals her devotion to womenswear, as she explains in the introduction to Own It, her guide and manifesto for personal growth and for turning problems into assets.
“Words have power” she writes in the book’s introduction. “We must use them carefully. They create energy, define us, impact our lives and the paths we take. My mother was strict about using the right words, and she loved to use and create aphorisms—a habit I inherited.”
In this new title, von Furstenberg has arranged hundreds of her aphorisms into alphabetical order, according to the single word that inspired each. Some of them shrink down a biography to a few lines. Take this entry, for the word Beginning. “My adult life began with a bang. At twenty-two I got pregnant, married, moved to America, and started my company. It was a drastic beginning of life. The truth is, we celebrate a beginning every day as we put our feet on the ground.” Or this one, for dress. “I created a little dress, a wrap dress to be precise. Because it was a pretty, practical, sexy little dress, it became very popular and gave confidence to millions of women. I know I made the dress, but truly the dress made me! It gave me freedom, independence, identity, and confidence.”
Others pack a lifetime of experience into a few useful rules for living one’s life. Consider this one, on staying in touch with erstwhile lovers. “believe in cherishing our exes. I find the souvenirs and intimacy we shared reassuring.” Or this, on being, or perceiving oneself to be a loser. “I sometimes feel like one, and then I remind myself, only losers don’t feel like losers.”
The book’s chief piece of advice lies in its title. “To Own It is to accept the truth and deal with it, however unpleasant it may be,” she writes. “It is about being in charge. It is the secret to life. To be in charge is not an aggressive statement. It is first and foremost a commitment to ourselves. It is accepting and standing for who we are.”
Though few of us will have led as varied and successful a life as von Furstenberg, we can all learn from successes and tribulations, in this remarkably engaging, endlessly fascinating and beautifully designed new book. Both established and aspiring designers will find much to admire in von Fusternberg’s words on creativity and resilience; anyone with passion, ambition and creativity, will be drawn to the words of so wise, successful and erudite a figure; yet Own It also offers reassurance and guidance for those who find themselves a little rudderless at the moment.
“The more I think about it, the more I think owning it is the key for everything, the secret to life!” she writes. “It applies to everything and everyone. It is about assuming responsibility, accepting reality, and dealing with the truth.”
If you want to join her in accepting responsibility, then take ownership of a copy of her new book; you can order a copy of Own It in our store here.