Every year the Met Gala brings the worlds of Hollywood and fashion together in spectacular fashion with the stars, designers, and glam squads all bringing their A-games to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This year’s theme of “Fashion: Notes on Camp” certainly delivered with over-the-top creations and performance art (thanks, Lady Gaga!) on the pink carpet.
Diane von Furstenberg arrived dressed as the Statue of Liberty, with her own face on her gown. It was camp, but also appropriate given that both are iconic New York women. But there was actually a deeper meaning to DVF’s choice. The designer and philanthropist has helped to raise $100 million for the new Statue of Liberty museum, which opens on May 16.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which was created in 1982 to raise funds to restore the Statue, recruited DVF to their board to help bring in the money needed for the massive project. DVF was hesitant to join the organization’s board at first. But the moment she decided it was a role she had to take on was when Stephen Briganti, the president of the foundation, underlined a passage from her book, The Woman I Wanted to Be. “My mother was a survivor of concentration camps for 13 months in 1944,” von Furstenberg said. “I was born after and she wrote me a note, which I included in my book. It said, ‘God saved me so that I can give you life. By giving you life, you gave me my life back. You are my torch of freedom.’ Stephen underlined that and said, see your mother said you are the torch of freedom, you have to do this.”
DVF was so successful in her role that the Foundation’s vice president and chief advancement officer, Richard Flood, called her the “godmother of Lady Liberty” during a press event this week. The designer said that she isn’t typically good at fundraising, but the Statue of Liberty “was an easy sell…somehow when you talk about it, everyone has a story, everyone has someone they want to honor.”
In addition to fundraising, DVF connected the foundation with with Apple to bring the experience to people who don’t have the opportunity to visit in person. “One day I’m sitting next to [Apple’s] Tim Cook and I start to mention the Statue of Liberty and he had never been,” DVF explained at the press gathering. “So I arranged for him to go and he was very much in awe. Then I said to him, ‘I really would like people to have an Apple experience.'” And thus, a great idea was born.
In conjunction with the opening of the new Statue of Liberty Museum, they are launching an augmented reality (AR) app, along with a podcast mini series. “It’s pretty amazing,” von Furstenberg said. “With this app, everybody in the world with an Apple phone or iPad will have access to the museum, the history. The goal was to give this experience, the opening of this museum, to a billion people. So it will be the biggest opening of a museum ever.”
The app is packed with cool features like a torch panorama where you can experience the view of the island and New York City from the vantage point of Lady Liberty’s torch from sunrise to sunset. (Actual visitors haven’t been able to do this IRL sine 1916.) Users can also explore the statue itself, as well as a look inside the iron tower structure created by Gustav Eiffel. A historical time-lapse function allows you to see the evolution of the Manhattan skyline over the past 200 years. It’s packed with so much incredible historical knowledge and packaged with the most modern technology available—a pretty incredible combo. (Download it here.)