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Claiborne, von Furstenberg headed to Walk of Fame

Two of the fashion industries biggest stars are getting a permanent place under your feet. The Fashion Center Business Improvement District is reopening its Fashion Walk of Fame to add plaques for Diane von Furstenberg and the late Liz Claiborne.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Claiborne was an easy call for the 145 curators, historians, editors and retailers who gauge which designers most deserve a spot on the pavement on Seventh Avenue in the Garment District.

"The company she started is now one of the largest companies in the United States," says BID executive director Barbara Randall. "She really redefined how women dressed, both professionally and casually."

As for von Furstenberg, Randall admires how she has remained popular and powerful. "She's had a number of lives in the fashion industry, but her infamous wrap dress of the '70s has made an extraordinary comeback. I loved Diane von Furstenberg years ago and my daughter loves it now."

While fashion professionals actually chose the honorees, the BID conducted an online poll and both Claiborne and von Furstenberg finished on top.

"Called upon as I am to speak on Liz's behalf, I know she would be deeply moved and honored to receive this distinguished affirmation of the work she did," says Claiborne's widower Art Ortenberg in a statement. "She believed, and I quote, 'It is our responsibility to design clothes that are saleable, producible, beautiful, and express the individual style of their designer.' Your previous honorees all reinforced that central theme. How pleased Liz would be to join them."

The Walk of Fame, which runs between 35th and 41st streets, launched in 2000. For three years in a row, eight fashion icons — four living and four dead — were inducted annually. They include Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and the late Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Perry Ellis and Rudi Gernreich.

The not-for-profit BID stopped giving the honor because, explains Randall, "if we kept going at that rate, we'd run out of people pretty quickly."

Randall says the intention is to keep the level of honorees at the highest, and include only designers that truly moved the industry, affected fashion and the way people dress — and whose work would still be relevant in 25 years.

The BID was eager to restart the Walk of Fame to recognize American tastemakers, Randall says, but it will now be with the more manageable program of two inductees either every year or every other year.

The plaques with original sketches from the designers will be placed on the walk this summer.