The fashion writer and internationally bestselling author’s new illustrated series blends the stories of designers’ lives with those of fairy tales. After penning fairy tale memoirs for Manolo Blahnik and Christian Lacroix, the latest designer to get Morton’s magical treatment is Diane von Furstenberg.
Diane von Furstenberg and the Tale of the Empress’s New Clothes tells both the story of how von Furstenberg became the successful woman she is (a story which, mind you, includes a real-life prince), with a reinvented take on the classic fable The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Far from being just the subject, von Furstenberg collaborated with Morton closely on the book and did all the illustrations. We caught up with Morton to chat about why she decided to write the book, what it was like working with Diane von Furstenberg, and which designers she hopes to collaborate with next. Read on.
How did you come up with the idea of blending designers’ life stories with fairy tales? Why do you think they go together so well?
When I go to the shows, I look at the characters, the fantasy, the magic and it seemed so obvious to explain the designers’ stories like this. Fashion is all about empowering and transformation, so where better to start than ‘Once Upon a Time’?
Why did you decide to blend The Emperor’s New Clothes specifically with DVF’s life story?
Diane is about empowering women – which is the exact opposite of the parallel tale so I liked the twist. The Empress is a revamped version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, which is the story of a young girl who was swindled and bamboozled by fashion and ends up going out without her dignity. Sometimes looking at the crazy fashions people wear, it does make me think of those crooks in The Emperor’s New Clothes and wonder if someone is having a laugh… Diane is the woman whose mantra ‘be a woman wear a dress’ encouraged women to do just that – she has an amazing story.
What was it like collaborating with DVF on the book?
She was amazing, inspiring, and totally hands on. We would email back and forth, and when Diane was directing the color and style for the art, she transformed the story.
It’s an unusual collaboration, with you as writer and DVF as both subject and illustrator. What was the process like?
Very exciting–it was like building a collection I suppose, as the more we worked together the richer the character and story became. There are a lot of stages to the process and I won’t let anything pass until it is perfect so I loved working with Diane and her incredible attention to detail.
What other designers would you like to give the fairy tale treatment to?
There are a few designers I am circling at the moment as I know they would be perfect. I want to continue this series to give fairytales a makeover as much as tell the tales of my favorite designers.
Something not everyone knows about DVF is that she once founded a publishing company in Paris. Did her experience in publishing affect the collaboration?
I think it was a real asset as when we laid out the first few passes Diane knew what to look for, knew what would work for the DVF brand as much as in a book.
Fashion and fantasy often go hand-in-hand. Why do you think it’s so important to keep the fantasy alive in the fashion industry?
Fashion is there to make you dream–it is to seduce and inspire–there is a reason we are not all in fig leaves! Yes, fashion is a business, but it’s about the way it makes you feel that engages you and makes you buy!