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Absolute Wrapture

Two decades ago, Diane von Furstenberg injected sex and glamour into the wrap dress. Nathalie Massenet charts a magnificent revival.

As if being a Miller sister is not enough, Alexandra, youngest of the beautiful and recently married trio, has burst on to the fashion scene in New York. Joining her new mother-in-law, Diane von Furstenberg, as creative director on the relaunch of a line of boldly printed wrap dresses synonymous with Studio 54 style, Alexandra is giving new meaning to the idea of raiding your mother-in-law's closet.

The revival started in American vintage shops, with originals of the wrap dress selling for 150 pounds each. Actress Kelly Lynch bought two of them, while Diane's daughter Tatiana borrowed the originals. Todd Oldham paid homage to the von Furstenberg look, and Alexandra wore an example to a cocktail party given for the New York City Ballet by her sister Marie-Chantal of Greece. This endorsement gave the little dress a big stamp of approval, and the trend inspired a business idea. "With every name that has ever been a name in fashion being revived, I felt I should do it as well," says von Furstenberg.

After famously appearing on the cover of Newsweek in 1976 and being called 'the most marketable female in fashion since Coco Chanel', Diane has bounced back into the style pages. Having turned 50 in 1996, she is thrilled to see women half he age wearing the dresses. 'I was 25 when I wore them', she says. 'Since then, they've looked older to me, but now they look young again. All these young girls between 20 and 30 think they're the hippest, sexiest, most glamorous thing.