Diane Van Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress Exhibition

Feel Like a Woman Wear a Dress Question: How do you tell regular museum goers from sewists at the DVF Wrap 40 Exhibit?

Answer: The sewists are the ones on the floor looking up a dress so see how the hem is constructed.

DVF Wrap 40 Exhibit

In celebration of 40 years of the wrap dress, DVF had an exhibit of hundreds of wrap dresses at the Wilshire May Company Building in Los Angeles.  I feel so lucky to live close enough to see it.  And even luckier to have a IRL sewing friend, Raye Ann, come with me to oohh and aaahhh over the garments.  I could have gotten any friend to oohh and aahh over the design and fabric.  But only a sewist friend can chat about probable construction methods, fabric weave and content, hem treatments, bias trim, width of the ties, pleats and cutouts.

 The Dress Room

The main focus of the exhibit is a large room filled with wrap dresses, wrap tops and wrap jump suits from 1974 to 2014.  The dresses were grouped visually.  The first dress you see, front and center, is the first wrap dresses from 1974.  It’s so timeless that you can see that same dress being worn today.

DVF Wrap Dress Exhibit 1st DressThere were also a grouping for animal print.

DVF Wrap Dress Exhibit Animal PrintsFloral Dresses

DVF Wrap Dress Exhibit FloralBlack and white prints

DVF Wrap Dress Exhibit Black and White PrintsColorful dress

DVG Wrap Dress ColorGeometric dresses

DVF Wrap Dress Color Geometric

Although the print/color groupings is the first thing we noticed, when we looked closer we saw all the wonderful variations on the dresses; different collars, sleeves, yokes and hem lengths to name a few.  Before this exhibit I thought that the wrap dress only came in a v-neck, typical of that cross over front bodice.  The variations in necklines were amazing.  And the wrap dress was also some times a wrap jump suit or a wrap top over a skirt.  There was so much to admire.

My Favorite Pieces (to sew up one day)

The sewist in me couldn’t help but snoop for sewing ideas.  Here are my top 10 favorites, in no particular order.

1)      Boat neck wrap dress

You might be thinking that this isn’t a wrap dress, but oh it is!  The wrap is in the back and looks like a v-back.  You can sorta see the reflection of the v-back.  We did recommend that they add mirrors or rotating displays so we can see all the beautiful details.

DVF Wrap Dress Boat Neck2)      The sweetheart neckline wrap dress.  As I mentioned my preconceived notion that wrap dresses were all v-necks was completely wrong.  I love that beautiful sweetheart neckline.  I think they’re more flattering on me than the deep-v.

DVF Wrap Dress Sweetheart neckline3)      Polo shirt inspired wrap dress.  This is so fun and casual that I can see myself in something like this every day.

DVF Wrap Dress Polo Inspired4)      Mandarian collar wrap dress.  What fantastic style lines.  The curvy lines with a key hole opening is just gorgeous.

DVF Mandarian Collar5)      Wrap dress with back details.  It was really difficult to see the back of the dresses.  At first we didn’t even think to look at the backs.  Look at what wonderful goodies we found when we did.

DVF Wrap Dress Back DetailsDVF Wrap Dress Back Details Diamond6)      Military inspired wrap dress.  The details on this dress are fabulous from the bands of topstitching to the brass buttons to the pockets.   There weren’t too many dresses with pockets.  This one was wonderfully executed.

DVF Wrap Dress Military Inspired7)      Sweater shawl collar wrap dress.  The comfy collar is perfect for a CA winter.

DVF Wrap Dress Shawl Collar8)      Bold prints wrap dress.  I love prints.  There were a lot of great prints but the size of this print just puts it on a whole other playing field.

DVF Wrap Dress BOLD Print9)      The jumpsuit wrap.  What an interesting construction.  We think it doesn’t have a zipper, it’s just closed with a wrap tie.

DVF Wrap Jumpsuit10)   Cowl armhole wrap dress.  What a great detail.  So elegant and sophisticated.

DVF Wrap Dress Cowl Armhole

Art Exhibit

The other room of the exhibit is an art exhibit filled with photographs and paintings.  I was too busy looking at everything that I forgot to take pictures.  Here a few that I did get.

Diane Pop ArtDVF Andy Warhol


The first and last thing you see is an entryway filled with old pictures, advertising, shots of celebrities/public figures wearing wrap dresses and dresses worn in movies.  Oh I forgot to mention, a wrap dress from the movie American Hustle is in the collection.  We looked at these walls coming in but coming out we had a totally different perspective after we had seen the dresses.   We recognized some of the dresses on display from the ads.  We cleared up our confusion about one of the dresses that had a short zipper just in the skirt section.  Turns out it was a wrap top with a regular zipped skirt.  It was so well integrated we had no idea it was a separate.

DVF Wrap Dress Exhibit EntrywayDVF Wrap Dress Entryway 2

Wrapping It Up

Raye Ann and I wrapped up our day with a delicious lunch and a short stop at The Fabric Store.   We made up for all the fabrics touching we couldn’t do at the exhibit by fondling gorgeous fabrics here.

DFV Wrap Dress Exhibit

Happy sewing,

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22 Responses to Diane Van Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress Exhibition

  1. shereesews says:

    Thanks for sharing this article on the
    DVF wrap dress. I enjoyed every single photo! I am motivated to find my old sewing pattern from 20+ years ago and make an updated version!

  2. Christina says:

    These pictures are so swoon worthy. I literally gasped when I came upon your post. Fab just fab.

  3. Caroline says:

    I can’t believe you had a secret blog along Nhi! I’m glad I found it. These photos are fabulous. I’m going to pin a bunch of them – thanks for taking such detailed pictures. I miss you!

  4. Gjeometry says:

    Fabulous exhibit, wish I’d seen it! I do love DVF’s style.

  5. Karen says:

    Thanks for the gorgeous pics and your details! I’m working on a classic wrap dress now!

  6. Carol says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I am so inspired.

  7. BeccaA says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful exhibit. I wish I could get there. What fabulous fabrics and details!

  8. Nothy says:

    I had no idea that wrap dresses were so versatile. I love some of the twist fabric fronts.

  9. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    What a great synopsis! It was so much fun. I have been looking back through my photos and attempting to explain to DH why the exhibit was so cool-but only a sewist can truly get excited by hem treatments and binding methods 🙂

  10. Gaye Proctor says:

    Yep I too thought all wrap dresses had V necks. Love the sweetheart one.

  11. Jill says:

    Oh man! I wish I had gone now!! My plans got cancelled cause of the rain. I thought of joining y’all, but honestly, LA+rain+baby didn’t really sound like a good combo. Oh well. Maybe I can get down there before the exhibit ends. These pictures are fabulous!! I also just thought all wrap dresses were the same but different fabrics. So interesting!

    • Oh no! You should have came. Traffic was light, weather was good, parking is easy, very short walk under a covered walkway to the exhibit. Of course that’s all said in hindsight. Could have been a total disaster. We definitely missed you!!

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