When I think of Diane von Furstenberg, I automatically think of the wrap dress. When it came to fruition in 1974, the wrap dress was a game changer. It served as a symbol of power and independence for women all around the world. By 1976, von Furstenberg had already sold over one million of these dresses, establishing not only herself but also her company as a notable brand to watch.
Forty-one years later, von Furstenberg has launched several other collections and received multiple awards recognizing not only her fashion prowess, but also her philanthropy. While DVF has grown to be a powerhouse, the company has just hired its first CEO … ever.
On Monday, founder and co-chairman Diane von Furstenberg appointed Paolo Riva as DVF’s first CEO. It was a two-year-long, painstaking process that was finally put to rest when the duo found Riva. Riva hails from an impressive line of work, as he worked for both Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino as part of the merchandising, marketing and product development teams. Directly prior to coming to DVF, Riva was also the vice president of apparel and visual merchandising for Tory Burch LLC.
DVF views its decision to hire a CEO as an investment — an “heir … to take [DVF] on for the next decades,” von Furstenberg told Women’s Wear Daily. Apparel merchandising, and fashion in itself, has been changing ever so slightly within the past few years. Consumers have begun to demand service along with goods. Brands are beginning to realize that, while meeting budgets and quotas is important, there is much more that is attributable to their successes than net revenues and costs. Von Furstenberg realized the occurring change and incorporated this when searching for the CEO for her company.
“I want somebody who really loves product. We don’t sell numbers. We sell dresses, we sell shoes, we sell accessories, bags,” von Furstenberg told WWD. Part of DVF’s reputation and allure comes from the relationships it establishes with each of its own customers. Von Furstenberg attributes part of her success to establishing “a very special relationship with the consumer over decades. I’ve dressed generations of women. I’m talking to the millennials. It’s a love brand,” von Furstenberg added.
DVF distributes in 55 countries with more than 1,500 points of sale. It would be an understatement to say that DVF has a far-and-wide global reach. While this may be true, it is also a fact that DVF is still a privately owned company. DVF’s move to appoint a CEO has fueled the rumors of it finally going public. As mentioned earlier, von Furstenberg mentioned that in appointing Riva as the CEO, he will be able to create longevity for DVF. One way to ensure durability is to become a publicly traded company. Will DVF go public? Only time will tell.
However, one thing is certain: DVF is here to stay, whether it decides to go public or stay as a private company. With some of the biggest names in both Hollywood and Washington — even U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama — having been seen wearing DVF, the brand has showcased its ability to design styles that are both trendy and classy.