It all began when 23andMe founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki discovered that friend and fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg was going to be in the area for a chat at Facebook offices in Menlo Park.
Wojcicki, a Los Altos Hills resident and downtown Los Altos property owner, saw the perfect opportunity to promote von Furstenberg’s current and coming DVF looks, and the fashion designer accepted Wojcicki’s offer to use a downtown storefront owned by Wojcicki’s Los Altos Community Investments.
So Wojcicki’s people flipped Area 151, the galaxy-themed arcade catering to kids that normally occupies 359 State St., into a sleek DVF store in 24 hours.
The DVF pop-up opened to local residents last weekend. The pop-up hosted special events Friday and Saturday, including a Saturday conversation with von Furstenberg and Wojcicki moderated by downtown property owner and activist Kim Cranston.
Wojcicki and von Furstenberg are ambassadors of DVF’s #InCharge movement. The personal genomics entrepreneur and the Belgian-born, Big Apple-bred designer known for her wrap dresses have each taken charge in their own ways.
“You’re in charge, just do it – just take charge. Don’t worry if there’s controversy, just power through,” Wojcicki told the large Saturday gathering of predominantly women in her appearance with von Furstenberg. “The #InCharge movement is really important today.”
“(Being) in charge is not aggressive – it’s a commitment to ourselves,” von Furstenberg said. “It is owning who we are. It is owning our imperfections, it’s owning your challenges.”
Designing your life
DVF’s origins stem from von Furstenberg’s creation of the iconic wrap dress in 1974. The print she’s known most widely for, the chain-link, has been customized with a forest-green background for the coming Christmas season. Items that have not yet been released and are available for preorder online were featured among the scattered racks.
Customers wandered among handbags, crossbody bags and clutches. Necklaces bore DVF’s modern mantra, “in charge” – a concept expanded from the trendsetter’s original company mission to embolden women.
“This is what we stand behind,” said DVF director of retail Tedi Burgos. “Being an advocate, designing your own life … her drive behind the brand is to make women feel beautiful, confident, sexy, feminine and really just empowered.”
For Wojcicki, taking charge was about empowering people with control over their own health care, and wresting that control away from a health-care industry that seeks to monetize illness.
“23andMe was born with this idea that we wanted be a thorn in the side of the health-care system,” she said Saturday. “We’re going to go straight to people and we’re going to empower individuals.”
The journey to being in charge hasn’t always been easy for von Furstenberg.
“I’ve had a lot of ups, a lot of downs, but all through my career, I have always had this amazing relationship with women,” she told the Saturday gathering. “The more confident I was, the more I was passing on my confidence.”
The fashion designer emphasized the importance of character and the meaning of being in charge.
“The first thing about being in charge is a commitment to yourself,” she said. “If you own your imperfections, they become your assets. If you own your vulnerability, it becomes your strength.”
For more information on the #InCharge movement, visit dvf.com.