During her fashion talk at Lasalle College of the Arts two weeks ago, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said that the wisest investment is generosity.
This is advice that DvF global brand ambassador Brittany Hampton has taken to heart - when strangers post hurtful comments on her Instagram pictures, the 26-year-old American responds by going to their profiles and liking their posts.
This is not done in irony or waged as some passive-aggressive attack. She genuinely believes that "the more positive you are, the more positive the world is" and she says this with the conviction that comes only from personal experience.
After winning the American reality competition series, House of DvF, Ms Hampton was subjected to a great deal of public commentary, not all of it positive.
"It was really hard in the beginning because I knew it wasn't just me reading these comments, but my family as well," she says.
The first season of House of DvF was launched last year, featuring Ms Hampton and eight other young women competing to represent the fashion brand. Each week, contestants completed challenges within different departments of Diane von Furstenberg's fashion house, from marketing to manufacturing.
Ms Hampton, who previously worked as an in-house stylist at MTV Networks, impressed the von Furstenberg team with her eye for design and sophisticated personal style. The fashion design graduate, who has a Philippine and African-American heritage, says she cultivated a taste for the sartorial from her mother, who was a wedding dress designer.
"My mother wasn't really fashionable in the traditional sense because she never cared about brands or trends. What she would do was try to recreate these magnificent Oscar de la Renta gowns in our living room, which was what got me into the designing of clothes."
As a daughter of a single mother, Ms Hampton was not always able to afford new outfits, prompting her to develop a skill for mixing and matching.
"What I would do was put on my grandmother's dress but pair it with my mum's leather jacket," she explains.
Even today, her style continues to be a mix of influences. In her younger days, the self-described tomboy was really more of a "Helmut Lang, Rick Owens kind of girl". After joining Diane von Furstenberg, which celebrates feminine silhouettes, she has begun to embrace colour and a more traditional sense of womanhood.
She hastens to add that she will "still take a wrap dress and throw on a pair of sneakers, though". True enough, a day after this interview, she is spotted in a red DvF Celeste dress and matching New Balance shoes.
Ms von Furstenberg has always encouraged her to preserve this sense of individuality, she says. "She's always telling me not just to think about the brand. She tells me to spend this year-long contract thinking about what I, as a woman, can get out of the experience."
Ms Hampton has always been inspired by the Belgian-born creator of the iconic wrap dress, but says that she has a new level of admiration for her after working for the brand.
"I always tell people that she is like your best friend's mum," she says. "She's the one that you will tell everything to, then beg not to tell your own mum."
She adds: "I guess what I really didn't expect is how personal she would make our relationship. If we're talking about work, she will switch the topic in a heartbeat and ask me about my boyfriend, my mum, what I did last weekend - she cares about everything, I want to be just like that."
DvF pre-fall 2015 mini cross bag. I love that this bag is light but also has many different compartments for all the things I need.
8 THINGS IN HER BAG
1. LETTERS TO THE MEN I HAVE LOVED BY MIRTHA MICHELLE CASTRO MARMOL
The author, who is a dear friend, wrote some very personal poems to the men in her life, from her father to her little nephew and her ex-boyfriend.
2. BOBBY PINS
I keep having to buy these because they always go missing.
This snake ring was a gift from my boyfriend. He knows I like accessories with character.
4. HOLLYWOOD FASHION TAPE
This is the double-stick tape I use when I want to stick parts of my clothes to my skin.
5. LUCAS' PAPAW OINTMENT
I use this papaya balm for my lips. My best friend gave it to me about six years ago, and now every time she goes to Australia, she has to bring some back.
6. DIANE VON FURSTENBERG SUNGLASSES
These are actually available only in Singapore, so I had to get them.
7. KIEHL'S BB CREAM
In California, there is a lot of smog, so Kiehl's products are good because they are all very natural and fresh.
8. CARD CASE
When I took the job as DvF ambassador, I knew I would be travelling around the world so I thought this card case would be appropriate
This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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