By Nicole Schubert | April 1, 2019 | Culture
The icon behind the wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg, and the trailblazing mixed media artist, Ashley Longshore, are teaming up to collaborate on an exclusive collection of art to celebrate the fearless, brave and inspirational women in history for International Women’s Month.
Von Furstenberg and Longshore, beacons of female empowerment, are showcasing their exhibition, which includes 37 depictions of influential women from Ruth Bader Ginsberg to Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, live at the Diane Von Furstenberg store on Washington Street.
Von Furstenberg and Longshore chatted with us about their groundbreaking collection, the powerful women who inspire them and what New Yorkers have to look forward to when experiencing the exhibition at the house of DVF this spring.
As an icon in women's ready to wear, tell us about your newest project, bringing art and fashion together in a new medium to celebrate International Women's Month.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG: Art inspires fashion. Fashion inspires art. It’s a natural marriage.
Collaborating on a curated collection with legendary mixed media artist, Ashley Longshore, when did you first know that you wanted to work together?
DVF: I met Ashley in London. We had tea and talked about a collaboration. We are both feminists so the goal was to open the exhibit for International Women’s Day.
What gravitated you to Longshore's works?
DVF: Her courage, her boldness and her authenticity.
Ashley, tell us about this empowering collection.
ASHLEY LONGSHORE: This is my most favorite collection I have ever created. The spirit. The color. All of these incredible women! I got so emotional when I saw them all installed. It took my breath away.
A trailblazer in the contemporary art genre, this is the first time you chose not to use bedazzling sparkle or resin. What materials did you decide to use instead?
AL: Diane really wanted a very raw version of me. Over tea in London, she really expressed how she wanted these women to be captured in paint only and I think it turned out beautifully. It felt like standing in my underwear for a minute, but I love how vulnerable the portraits are. The room is gorgeous.
You’ve put together a synthesis of brave, inspirational and powerful women. Who can we expect to see?
DVF: I gave Ashley a list of 36 women in history that impress me most. Some of them she did not know and researched but somehow she really captured the spirit of each woman so well.
AL: I painted so many women that span so many generations. Diane really sent me on a journey. She is a teacher. I learned about Lee Miller and Hedy Lamar. I learned so much about Josephine Baker and Martine Rothblatt. I also included Whitney Wolfe, who is changing the world for women. The writers, the artists, the humanitarians—all fearless and confident. It’s incredible what a human can accomplish when they’re motivated.
What commentary do you wish to portray through this collection?
AL: I wanted women so little girls can see themselves in the portraits. I want them to know that all of our female idols have faced adversities and overcome their fear. I wanted people to feel a hug when they walk into the room and then a kick in the ass to go be the best they can be.
It was mentioned that some of the women painted are wearing your colorful prints and designs. Can you elaborate?
DVF: It was Ashley’s idea to incorporate some of my prints in her paintings. She chose whatever she wanted from my archives.
From Jackie Kennedy to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which woman in the collection inspires you most and why?
DVF: All the strongest women I meet in my philanthropic work humble me and are my role models.
AL: They all inspire me equally. It's such a diverse mix of women who span so many different careers. I could never choose, that’s like choosing my favorite flower in a bouquet. I love them all together—that is the point.
The collection was recently unveiled in early March and is live in the flagship store on Washington Street through May 2019. What can New Yorkers expect to experience?
AL: A blast of color and beauty that is larger than life in a space curated by an icon. It’s important to see the women who have paved the way. I have always painted portraits of incredible women because it makes me brave. I surround myself with images and people who inspire me, that is very critical to success.
How would you characterize a role model in today’s generation?
DVF: Strength to fight, courage to survive, leadership to inspire. This is the mission statement of the DVF Awards.
Do you have advice for young women who look up to the fearless female figures portrayed in your collection and hope to be the next them?
DVF: Have the courage to be you. Enjoy being you.
Photography courtesy Ashley Longshore