Fashion icon. TV personality. Book author. Cancer survivor. Septuagenarian. My guest, Diane Gilman, is all of those things and now, for her third act, she is bringing women together to support one another to make their third act, their best one yet.
Diane knew, from the time she was 5, that she wanted to be in fashion. She wanted to sew and go to school for it but her mother was having none of it.
Get married and be a good wife was the message of the day.
Somehow Diane was able to break away from the limitations of her mother’s thinking.
“When the sixties hit and through circumstance, I met Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. I became their seamstress in the band. I took their denim, their jeans. I embroidered it. I jeweled it. I loved to do hand painting on denim. I followed the music scene to San Francisco and then one day just said, you know, you're in your mid-twenties. Where are you going with this? A party cannot last forever.”
So, she took her last few bucks and moved to NYC, home of the fashion industry.
A dream she had, experience she did not, so at night she worked as “the worst waitress at Max’s Kansas City” and by day in the bullet bra and girdle department in Bloomingdale’s.
Fate stepped in, she was given a break because she boldly said she was ready despite the lack of evidence.
Diane’s story is one of persistence, belief in herself, and she’d probably say, a good bit of luck.
At one point her washable silk clothing line was on QVC, then Home Shopping Network. Feeling crappy and unattractive after her divorce, with nothing to wear that fit so she felt good, she decided to make herself a pair of jeans that she felt good in. Another hugely successful chapter was born.
Diane became known as “The Queen of Jeans” for her jeans designed for a mature woman. She went global with her products when she realized that no matter where we come from, we are all women feeling the same things about our body, aging, and looking good.
“Surviving breast cancer and two years of treatments” Diane told me, “when you get a disease like breast cancer, you suddenly realize it doesn't care
how much money you have or how glamorous you are, or who you know, or who knows you. You're brought down to a level of reality. I came out the other end with a sense of empathy and compassion I would've never had otherwise.
It prepared her for her third act of bringing women together and helping them, us, live as though each moment is precious, supporting one another, taking a stand for all women everywhere to love who they are right now.
And she admitted that it takes a good bit of work to stay healthy, fit, relevant, engaged, and connected. More than she sometimes feels like doing. But if we don’t take care of the body and the mind, they get weak, our lives become less alive.
Her new book Too Young To Be Old
If you want support preparing yourself for your third act, or you’d love to figure out what that is, reach out. I’d love to help.