EXCLUSIVE: Diane von Furstenberg Designs Minnie Mouse’s Wrap Dress for TV Special

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Who wouldn’t doubt that Diane von Furstenberg and Minnie Mouse would become fast friends?

For the prime-time ABC special Nov. 4 in celebration of Mickey and Minnie Mouse’s 90th anniversary, von Furstenberg has designed a wrap dress for Minnie Mouse.

“They asked me if I’d like to do a dress for her 90th birthday, and I said ‘OK,'” said von Furstenberg. “Obviously she’s an icon and she had to have a wrap dress. I made a wrap that had lots of different cutouts so we could play with her dots and the colors of the dot and a lot of godets.”

Minnie Mouse’s dress was created by using a 100 percent silk faille fabric in white and black and hand-embroidering sequins to create the mix of polka-dot designs. The dress was sewn by hand in New York, taking 15 people nearly 35 hours to complete.

Long considered a fashion icon, Minnie has been a muse for designers, inspiring new collections and appearing in magazines and runway shows all over the world. Her classic polka-dot ensemble has been continually reimagined by the industry through the decades. Minnie Mouse, who has a reputation for being cute, playful and flirtatious, has often been portrayed as a dancer or musician that Mickey is trying to win over or a damsel in distress whom Mickey tries to rescue. Through the years, they became a steady couple.

Von Furstenberg said she grew up as a Minnie Mouse admirer. “I do like Minnie Mouse. It’s a while-back souvenir and I did like her. You know what I like about her was her shoes were always so big,” she said. Von Furstenberg designed the shoes, too. “We gave her a full look.”

And what specifically does she like about her?

“I do like her because she has humor and she’s fun,” she said.

Von Furstenberg said she doesn’t plan to commercialize Minnie’s wrap  dress. “This is for her only,” she said.

The designer noted that Minnie Mouse came to the Meatpacking District office to visit her last week, “and unfortunately, I wasn’t there.

“She sat at my desk,” she said. “I broke my back, darling. I’ve been going around for three weeks with a fractured vertebrae without knowing. That’s what happens when you get old. I fell in the middle of the night.”

Von Furstenberg said she went to Europe, got the Honorary Citizen of the City of Brussels award in recognition of her efforts in arts and fashion and for her contribution to the image of Brussels worldwide, “all with my back broken and I did not know that. Now I’m wearing a brace and hopefully I won’t have to get surgery, but now I’m beginning to feel much better,” she said.

Von Furstenberg previously designed a look for Disney for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” in 2015, when she designed a bespoke look as part of the “Force 4 Fashion” initiative that Disney launched with Bloomingdale’s and nine other designers.

Asked if she thinks the Minnie wrap dress will have a positive impact on her business, she said it was something fun and not motivated by sales. “This is a wink. It’s a character that’s part of our childhood. It’s not serious. It’s a milestone for her, and they wanted a wrap dress. Everybody has had a wrap dress in their lives, and Minnie deserves one, too. Mrs. Obama had one on her first Christmas card, and Minnie has one, too, now,” said von Furstenberg.

Von Furstenberg feels that Minnie Mouse has a multigenerational quality. “What was old becomes new. To me, she reminds me of something of my childhood, so it’s a wink. It’s something that I did with pleasure.”

Originally, Minnie Mouse’s signature polka-dot skirt was inspired by Coco Chanel’s Easy Jersey collection when she made her debut in Walt Disney’s groundbreaking 1928 “Steamboat Willie.” She also wears oversized high-heeled pumps that are too big for her feet. In 1940, Minnie was redesigned and her hat was replaced with a large bow, and bows were added to her shoes as well. Minnie almost always wears red or pink.

Last year, Minnie attended her first New York Fashion Week, posing for photographs at the Empire State Building Observatory, attending a master class at Instagram with Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships, and visiting Refinery to talk trends.

Last year, to celebrate “Minnie Mouse Loves Dots,” which was available in spring 2017 at Uniqlo, Minnie linked with two notable names, designer Olympia Le-Tan and photographer Gray Malin. Malin created the still-life series, aptly titled “Rock the Dots.” For her special appearance, Minnie wore an ensemble designed by Le-Tan.

“Mickey: The True Original Exhibition,” an interactive art exhibit, will run in New York from Nov. 8 to Feb. 10. This immersive, pop-up art exhibition is inspired by Mickey’s status as a “true original” and his global impact on popular culture and art. From his beginning in black-and-white in Steamboat Willie to the technicolor world of more than 100 cartoon shorts, exhibition guests can relive Mickey moments.

As reported, Mickey Mouse’s milestone is being celebrated around the world with events, exhibits, activations and merchandise, from companies such as Rag & Bone, Lacoste, Forever 21 and Vault by Vans. Marc Jacobs has launched a Mickey-inspired collection, as has Target Corp. Terez, Legos, Sugarfina and Ample Hills Creamery, which are among the other brands paying homage to Mickey, leading up to the official birthday on Nov. 18.

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