Diane von Furstenberg, aka DVF, is all over town at the moment. She popped over during London Fashion Week to celebrate the opening of her latest shop which is all black lacquer, mirrors and a seductive carpet of softest pink. Afterwards there was a glittering soirée attended by the usual gang, plus some old and newer admirers. There’s plenty to admire. The current 1970's revival suits Diane as it means she only has to look like herself to be where it’s at. She is usually at the centre of the action though she has a particular, detached style of enjoyment with a way of drawing it out of other people, rather than spelling it out herself.
I first met Diane in Paris in the mid-1980s. She had already sold her fashion empire and had decided to make her life revolve around intellectual pursuits. As a result, her Left Bank flat was packed with intellos, big ideas and bigger egos; she was best friends with the Italian writer Alberto Moravia. She came across as a man’s woman but was very friendly to girls – kind and unpatronising. Years later, on my first trip to New York, I called her. ‘Daaarling, are you free tonight?’ came the conspiratorial drawl. ’I’ll pick you up at seven.’
On the dot, a dark green chauffer-driven Jaguar drew up with Diane in the back, wearing a catsuit. I felt as though I was Princess Daisy, being given a glimpse of life as the most popular girl at the international boarding school. We arrived at a fund-raising gala, and Diane languidly greeted Henry Kissinger on the staircase. At dinner I was seated between the designer Michael Kors and a New York intellectual called Richard., who kept his back firmly turned on me. Michael Kors made up for it. He was unpompous and very funny, pointing out all the society hostesses who had formerly been call-girls, which impressed me a lot.
As people started to table hop, Richard and his back turned towards me. ‘So, how long are you here for?’ he asked. ‘I’m leaving tomorrow,’ I replied. He responded as if I’d given him an electric shock. ‘Tommorow? Christ, I’ve spent my whole evening talking to someone else when I could have been talking to you.’ My turn to be surprised, though if he thought that the bellows of indifference had fanned the flames of desire, he had got it wrong. As 11 o’clock tolled, his tone took on a new urgency: ‘Why don’t you have a drink at my place?’ At which Diane reappeared: ‘You guys wanna lift?’
The Jaguar dropped her off first, then drew up outside Richard’s apartment. ‘Why don’t you come up for a bit and I’ll call you a cab?’ he suggested silkily. ‘Er, no. I’ve got to get up early for my flight,’ I rather mundanely replied. As Richard went on entreating me, I wondered what the driver was thinking; personally I felt quite honoured that someone would make such an effort – not the English way. Then, after 20 minutes of urging, Richard suddenly turned to the diver and said, ‘Oh, you tell her. Just for 15 minutes’ Moments later I was speeding home, and an Indian voice came from the driver’s seat: ‘Jolly good show Miss.’ Mind you, I’ve often speculated on exactly how those 15 minutes would have gone…