Diane von Furstenberg to Host DVF Awards Event in Venice

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MILAN — After New York, Washington, D.C., and Paris, the DVF Awards this year will be handed out in Venice for the first time, during a ceremony coinciding with the city’s international film festival.

“I decided on Venice because the city has always been part of my life,” Diane von Furstenberg told WWD. “I compare Venice to an eternal, legendary and very resilient woman, always looking ahead.”

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The yearly DVF Awards were created in 2010 by the designer and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to recognize and support extraordinary women who are dedicated to transforming and inspiring the lives of other women. This edition for the first time will bestow $100,000 for each award, doubling the sum previously granted each year.

Von Furstenberg will host a dinner event on Thursday at the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice, founded in the 13th century. “Venice is the city that throughout history has symbolized the same courage, strength and leadership that all of these women possess,” said von Furstenberg of the honorees.

“Women are very strong and we must help one another. I could simply bestow the money but with a ceremony that will include the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton, I gather together in the same room women who are unknown to the larger public with extraordinary and famous women, to support and amplify their voice,” said von Furstenberg. Rodham Clinton will attend on behalf of Vital Voices Global Partnership, which she founded in 1997, whose mission is to invest, connect and amplify women leaders taking on the world’s greatest challenges.

This year the Lifetime DVF Award will be given to Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank since 2019. “She is such an incredible woman — one whom men listen to when she talks about money,” deadpanned von Furstenberg.

Zoya Lytvyn will receive the International DVF Award. She is a Ukrainian educator, reformer and entrepreneur who founded the nongovernmental organization Osvitoria, and Ukraine’s Novopecherska School, which is recognized by Microsoft as one of the 100 most innovative schools globally and has helped to change the lives of more than 4 million students in Ukraine. “Zoya has already helped 500,000 students through COVID-19, creating for Ukraine’s government the first national online education platform called ‘The All-Ukrainian Online School,’ which continues even after the war struck, connecting from 120 countries globally. Women always find a solution,” said von Furstenberg, touting how often these projects “start small and then go upscale,” with an exponential impact. “She connected with UNICEF, and that was genius,” continued the designer.

The International DVF Award will be granted to Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the Mbororo pastoralist people in Chad and founder and president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT), focused on promoting the rights of girls and women in the Mbororo community. “She is an advocate for the greater inclusion of Indigenous people and their knowledge and traditions in the global movement to fight the effects of climate change,” von Furstenberg explained, praising Ibrahim’s commitment to thousands of displaced women.

The International DVF Award will be bestowed to 10 women from Afghanistan. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the ensuing Taliban restrictions on women’s education, employment and freedom, these 10 women will be honored as they work to ensure a safe and sustainable future for the most at-risk Afghan women and girls. “Our partner organization Vital Voices has been working with the Georgetown Institute of Women Peace and Security, the U.S. Department of State and a coalition of other Afghan and American women leaders to successfully evacuate nearly 1,200 Afghan women leaders, human rights defenders, and their families,” said von Furstenberg.

From among those evacuated, the following were chosen for their resilience and strength, ranging from activists and artists, to journalists and former government officials: Muqaddesa Yourish; Shahla Farid; Shabnam Salehi; Mary Akrami; Anisa Shaheed; Storai Karimi; Shafiqa Khpalwak; Marjan Mohammadi; Mahal Wak and Shabnam Hassan Khan.

Ava DuVernay will receive the Inspiration DVF Award. “She is fantastic, the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director in any feature category, and her storytelling skills are so impactful,” enthused von Furstenberg.

The “Selma” director is currently writing, directing and producing the film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s bestseller “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.” DuVernay amplifies and distributes independent films for women filmmakers and directors of color through Array Releasing.

The DVF Awards have been supporting 66 women from 27 different countries over the years.

The designer has been attending the Venice Film Festival all her life and she confided that she plans to spend more time in the city. “Everybody says we need to save Venice, but Venice can save us,” she contended, basking in its history and multifaceted appeal.

“I thought it would be fitting to hold the event in Venice, it’s such an international city and people are always happy to go there.”

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