Diane von Furstenberg Takes a Stab at Making Hospital Gowns More Stylish

World-renowned Fashion Designer Diane von Furstenberg, who also serves as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and has pioneered the wrap dress, added yet another accomplishment back in August to her extensive list: the design of a more stylish hospital gown.

The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio enlisted von Furstenberg to create a patient gown that does not have the undignified back opening hospital gowns are known for, and she delivered, designing a gown that has side ties instead. She also put her signature into the work, as the gowns appear to have been inspired by the wrap dress and feature a bold, graphic print. {LA Times}

News of the more stylish hospital gown was released this summer after the new design was unveiled at the 2010 Patient Experience Summit in Cleveland, and word has been slowly spreading through the media. The LA Times reports that patient feedback has been mostly positive, with the only major gripe coming from some men who feel the design is too feminine. We’re not sure how masculine these men think something that is essentially a dress can be, but we suppose it is a fair complaint.

Von Furstenberg reportedly came upon the project when she met the Cleveland Clinic’s CEO Toby Cosgrove at a networking conference in 2007. {Newsweek}

Jeanne Ryan, a Cleveland Clinic employee who has led the design project for the past three years, said patients’ needs were the chief concern in the creation of the gowns.

“We painstakingly chose the material, which isn’t as easy as one would think to decide upon,” she said. “You need something heavy enough so it is not transparent. But patients’ biggest complaint throughout the hospital is that they are too warm. So we wanted a light-enough weight so it is not transparent but comfortable enough that it can be worn in bed.” {Newsweek}

The previously standard hospital gowns with the back opening were created with cost in mind as well. Those gowns were relatively cheap to produce, while the new model costs roughly $9. Ryan said the team producing the new gowns did consider costs as well.

These new hospital gowns sure are more stylish than traditional ones (not to mention way more convenient since you can walk down the hall without having to hold the back closed), but the design is still not exactly haute couture, though we’re not sure just how much potential there even is in a hospital gown to be highly stylish. We also wonder why von Furstenberg was needed for the design. If the new model is meant for widespread use, couldn’t whoever normally designs hospital gowns have come up with this years ago?

In any case, von Furstenberg is to be admired for her philanthropic spirit and dedication to clothing design.

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