Due to COVID, LIM College had to cancel its May 2020 Commencement ceremony at Lincoln Center. But for this year’s graduating class, hearing the wise words of legendary designer Diane von Furstenberg more than made up for things.
The first-ever virtual Commencement in the college’s 81-year history took place last night. Von Furstenberg, creator of the iconic wrap dress and a passionate philanthropist, was receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on the evening. The graduating class of 544 students tuned in from all over the country and the world for the ceremony.
Always one for quotable remarks, von Furstenberg assured the class that while they’re entering the fashion industry at a time when it’s in flux, this period will also bring about new and innovative opportunities.
“I want to wish you the best of luck,” she told graduates. “You are graduating in a very interesting moment. In a moment in which society is so drastically changing. So in a sense, it’s an opportunity…you are going into the business world at a moment where things are different and changing.”
The 73-year-old designer added, “I want to tell you that your business life will be a journey, and like all journeys, the landscape will change. When things are difficult, remember: the difficult moments make the best anecdotes when you make a speech or write a book. Look at life like a documentary!”
DVF also thanked the college for the “wonderful honor” of her honorary degree, joking, “It sounds very impressive!”
At the virtual ceremony, Jennifer Foyle, chief creative officer of AEO, Inc. and Aerie global brand president gave the ceremony’s keynote address, and received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree and was presented with LIM College’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
In her address to the graduates, LIM College president Elizabeth S. Marcuse said, “This is a particularly critical time to be entering the business of fashion. Our industry and its associated fields are in rapid flux. Fortunately, the education you received at LIM has prepared you to rise to this occasion. Your education wasn’t just about being able to memorize facts in a textbook and reel them back off on an exam. Your education was about learning to be creative, adaptive, and responsive as the world around you grows, evolves, and does the unpredictable on a daily basis.”
In her remarks, Ms. Foyle spoke about her late mother, Pauline McInnis Foyle, describing her as “A true trailblazer, who began her retail career at the very bottom – using her feet instead of a desk. She worked her way up to the boardroom, where men had most of the seats at the table.” Ms. Foyle recalled one of their last conversations. “I asked her what she thought about life. Without hesitation, she said, ‘Well, Jenny, it’s available.’ Those words guide me. Every time there’s an obstacle, personal or professional, I think of that special night. Life is available. It’s here to be seized, no matter how daunting the problem or how big the battle.” Ms. Foyle went on to assure the graduates, “Although this global pandemic presents real roadblocks, I promise that your grit, imagination and feistiness will get you to the other side. Once there, you will be stronger and more agile than the generations that came before you.”
Watch the full commencement below: