Legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg paid tribute to an extraordinary group of women on Friday afternoon at the Women in the World Summit, starting with her own mother, Lily.
“In 1945,” von Furstenberg said, “there was a young girl who was 20 who got arrested by the Germans. She was in the house doing her resistance work, and she got sent to the death camp at Auschwitz. She made it. She survived. Fourteen months later, she weighed 48 pounds. But her spirit was amazing.”
Von Furstenberg once found a letter from her mother that had been written during that time, she said. Someone had asked her mother, “What condition of hell are you in?” Her mother wrote back, “Excellent.”
“I think everybody in this room understands it,” von Furstenberg said. “She didn’t want to be a victim.” Her mother later told her, “God saved me so I could give you life.”
Von Furstenberg is a co-host of the summit, which is presented by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
She went on to talk about the recipients of her annual DVF Awards, given to women who help other women. “I’m carrying that heritage with honoring women’s strength,” von Furstenberg said. This year, the list of honorees includes Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, Andeisha Farid of the Afghan Child Education and Caring Organization, and supermodel Natalia Vodianova, who has built 100 playgrounds for schoolchildren in Russia.
Lara Spencer, the co-host of GMA, emceed the conversation. She pointed out how von Furstenberg’s arm was in a sling from a recent skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado.
“Yes, I’m in a bad mood,” von Furstenberg joked. “Yes, I have a broken shoulder. Yes, I’m going for surgery tomorrow, but next to everything else I feel so humbled and privileged to be here.”