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Von Furstenberg: Truthfulness Is in Fashion on E! Reality Show

E!’s next celebrity-at-work reality star, designer Diane von Furstenberg, said her new series, House of DVF, will do more than produce a new “brand ambassador” for her fashion label after putting eight young women through an extended, competitive job tryout.

It will bring truth to reality.

“It’s a new genre,” the Belgian-born fashion diva, and wife of IAC chairman and CEO Barry Diller, told reporters gathered in her Manhattan offices last week. “I think it’s a new genre. It’s not for me to say it but, you know, if I say it, maybe you’ll repeat it.”

Inspired partly by her judging work on Lifetime’s Project Runway, which she said help teach the public how the fashion industry really works and benefited the brands that were involved, von Furstenberg said she sifted through a lot of bad reality ideas before finding the House of DVF concept.

When E! and NBCUniversal executives (including NBCU Cable chairman Bonnie Hammer) encouraged her to do something fresh, “that was the great green light,” she said.

Viewers, of course, will decide. But von Furstenberg said the cameras only recorded what would have happened anyway behind the doors of the fashion house on West 14th Street, with its famed five-story central staircase, and at awards ceremonies or “lookbook” shoots.

“The religion that I practice is truth,” she said. “I could not do anything that would only be for television and for effect.”

Clearly enjoying a chance to speak at length about the program, von Furstenberg (author of a new memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be) said she grew close to the eight contestants, including the three finalists who were with her at the presser, Abigail Petit-Frere, Tiffani-Amber Warkenthien and Lenore Genovese.

“I am happy with the result of the show,” she declared. Why? “Because it is informative. You learn a lot about what happens behind the doors in a fashion house. It is funny, because everybody’s funny. And I manage to pass some very good messages to empower women, and that is very important to me.”

“I must say,” she continued, “one of the things that I deplore about some of the shows in television is that they objectify the woman and they make you say that if you’re a bitch, you win. That was a very important point. You don’t have to be a bitch to win, and it’s not plastic surgery that will make you happy. And so I’m able to be wise and serious and funny at the same time.”

House of DVF debuts on E! on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Honoring Actresses Who Step Off-Stage As ‘Difference’ Makers

“Thank you for coming out on a rainy night to what is essentially the core of the witness protection program,” Discovery Communications executive Henry Schleiff said. “This is not an easy place to find, and I think it’s relatively new. Amazing that we all found it, and there’s actually no way of getting back, so I hope you like the Scotch.”

After that welcome, there weren’t many jokes because, as Schleiff said, “This is actually a relatively serious night.”

The occasion last Wednesday (Oct. 22), at the Riverpark restaurant in Manhattan, was the “Inspire a Difference” awards.

Four famous actresses were honored for their work with organizations helping victims of crime, abuse and domestic violence. Investigation Discovery and Glamour magazine sponsored the awards.

Marcia Gay Harden talked about first coming to New York after college, expecting to be greeted at the bus by Martin Scorcese. Instead, she met homeless men and women, started talking with them and hearing their stories, and got involved with HELP USA, which provides affordable housing and supportive services.

Rosario Dawson was inspired to help start Studio One Eighty Nine Foundation after a 2011 trip to Africa. The foundation supports an e-commerce platform selling clothes and accessories made by African artisans, a collection called Fashion Rising.

“They especially need it now, more so than ever,” Dawson said, while urging attendees to visit Africa. “There are many parts of it that are not affected by Ebola — it is not a country, it is a continent; there are many, many countries there. We need to open our doors, we need to open our minds, we need to start helping each other grow and rise together.”

Stephanie March, who plays prosecutor Alexandra Cabot on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, won for work on behalf of Safe Horizon, an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse.

Tamara Taylor (Dr. Camille Saroyan on Fox’s Bones) was cited for her work with The Rape Foundation. And a fifth honoree, Kristen Paruginog of San Diego, received an “Everyday Hero” award and $5,000 grant for Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, the support organization she created after telling her own story of being in an abusive relationship.