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With her wrap dress that caused a fashion commotion when it came out in the Seventies, Diane von Furstenberg paved the way for a slew of American women designers, each with her own niche, and with slightly more accessible prices than the highest tier. Now that women had firmly reentered the workforce, they were starting to move up the ranks of business, and the rising designers would take aim at this new customer with a professional wardrobe that was easy to wear—but was still fun and feminine. The late Eighties and early Nineties saw the rise of Nicole Miller, with charming conversational prints (born with her theater ticket design on neckties); Yeohlee Teng and her stark, architectural shapes; fun retro numbers with a Midwestern sensibility from Cynthia Rowley; a girlish, hippie-bohemia vibe from Anna Sui, and, later, the new contemporary standard from Tory Burch.
When von Furstenberg was restarting her business in 1992, WWD covered her live appearance in Macy’s Broadway windows, and she was tentatively feeling her way. “I feel like a fool,” she told a crowd of onlookers via loudspeaker, as she presented a new line of dresses. But she got down to business fast. “These are designed for women who work.” She no doubt had herself in mind—the relaunch of those dresses (which sold for under $200 at the time) ignited her business, propelling it into a global brand that continues to grow.