About Diane

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Born in California, Diane graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1972.  Although she was planning to return to UCLA in the Fall to begin a Masters program, several events occurred, which changed the course of her life's destiny.

During that intervening summer break, Diane was inspired to start a new project of recycling vintage fabrics into a new collection of designer garments.  She went to swap meets, where she bought textured, embroidered and unusual fabrics, and eventually came up with the idea to patchwork mixtures of the fabrics onto recycled jean jackets, along with adding curled feathers to the vest's armhole
 Her first collection of six handmade jackets sold to a Hollywood boutique for US$25 each.

A few days later, the owners of Bazaar CM called Diane to place a new order for jackets as they had sold out.  Celebrities Joni Mitchell and Diana Ross had been the first fans in the queue wanting to own Diane's inspirations.  By the end of that summer, Diane had established a distribution network for her collection amongst the top Hollywood boutiques and had to abandon her plans to return to University.

In 1978, while visiting a close friend in Hong Kong, Diane found new inspiration in fine Chinese silks and hand embroidered fabrics displayed in The Chinese Arts & Crafts Hong Kong department stores.  She found a back street tailor and designed and ordered some colourful, embroidered flowing silk tops and skirts before returning to Los Angeles.  She sold this new look to her accounts.  She soon realized that in order to continue designing new collections, she would need to relocate to Hong Kong.  The lure of silk fabrics and complying Chinese manufacturing were two necessary components that needed to be considered and explored in depth.

After relocating to Hong Kong, a very special opportunity to showcase Diane's talents was on offer in the Spring of 1977.  The Hong Kong Trade Development Council was hosting a Young Designers' Fashion Show and Diane was invited to participate.  For this event, Diane launched her new 80's look, which was influenced by a bohemian theme.  The garments featured mixed-prints, ruffles, tiered gathered skirts and all the styles were easy-fit, featuring elasticated waists.   The collection was a run-away success in Hong Kong, selling out in local boutiques and department stores.

Diane opened her first Hong Kong boutique in 1978 and by 1986 she had six more boutiques in Hong Kong and Kowloon shopping malls.  International buyers were impressed with this new brand and distributors were appointed in Asia, Europe, the US, Australia, etc.  With their hallmark elasticated waists, exotic prints, pretty florals, dramatic geometrics and bold stripes, her designs sold out in Harrods, David Jones, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.  They were highly sought after by celebrities and fashionistas and women of all shapes and sizes.  Diane continued to expand her vision and took on another challenge....to make resort wear elegant and dramatic.  Kaftans, tunics, ponchos and their co-ordinates, sometimes hand-painted with neon colors on a variety of shimmering fabrics, were soon selling to women dreaming about their holiday getaways!  At the request of an agent in California, Diane created a line of Mother of the Bride/Groom wear.  She sourced cutting-edge laces and beaded fabrics that would give her customers looks of sophisticated elegance, refinement and grandeur on that special day.  The first collection revolutionized the industry and was an inspiration to other designers.

In recognition of her commercial achievements in design, Diane received the following awards:
- The Prestigious Courvoisier Award for Business Excellence in 1986
- The Hong Kong Governor's Award for Industry and Export in 1993
- As an Alumni, UCLA honored Diane with the 1990 Professional Achievement Award
- Diane Freis was the recipient of the City of Hope's 'Spirit of Life" Award

Diane is a Hong Kong success story based on hard work and determination, which became a role model for Hong Kong manufacturing.  Her designs were ground breaking, and remain classic and timeless today.  We are thrilled to have the opportunity to offer Diane's beautiful designs to you on this site.