LOS ANGELES — Diane Von Furstenberg thought that, after 40 years, her wrap dress deserved a party.
The 67-year-old designer and dozens of her famous friends celebrated the opening last week of “Journey of a Dress,” an exhibit honoring the timeless style she introduced in the early 1970s: A flattering, easy-to-wear dress that fastens with a simple tie at the waist.
“This is the first time that I ever honored the wrap dress, and she did so much for me,” said an ebullient Von Furstenberg, wearing a black wrap dress with floor-skimming yellow kimono sleeves. “She made me famous. She paid for all my bills. And tonight we celebrate the wrap dress.”
Marisa Tomei, Demi Moore, Tobey Maguire, Molly Sims, Edward Norton, Robin Wright and Rachel Zoe were among the many stars celebrating Von Furstenberg’s enduring design.
“It’s a total standard in a woman’s closet,” said stylist Estee Stanley, who counts Jessica Biel and Lea Michele among her clients. “It’s just so easy: You throw it on, it’s not uncomfortable, and it’s sexy.”
The exhibit at the Wilshire May Company Building, on view until April 1, features the designer’s favorite dresses from throughout the decades. Scores of mannequins stand in neat rows, their narrow waists all belted, each in different versions of the wrap dress. A stunning mass stands in the center of the vacant department store, all wearing black and white.
Von Furstenberg is also known for patterns and color palettes, which splash across the exhibit space and serve as themes for the collections.
A group of mannequins dressed in blues, browns and oranges stand atop a blue snakeskin-patterned floor, beside yellow geometric walls.
Part of “Journey of a Dress” is dedicated to the designer herself: Paintings and portraits of Von Furstenberg by artists including Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz fill one room of the exhibit. The hallway is lined with oversized reproductions of the DVF wrap dress in the pages of 1970s Vogue magazine and on models and movie stars then and now. Rene Russo, Jerry Hall and Iman wore them in the ’70s, as did Cybill Shepherd in “Taxi Driver” in 1976. Michelle Obama and Madonna wore them recently. So did Amy Adams in “American Hustle.”