Blood Moon: I Got My First Period on Diane Von Furstenberg’s Boat

Direct from the “fashion trauma” vault comes the story of one GARAGE writer’s star-studded menarche.

by Emma Specter
Jan 18 2019, 2:39pm

I design for the woman who loves being a woman. — Diane von Furstenberg

In anticipation of Sunday's 'Super Blood Wolf Moon, GARAGE is celebrating all things lunar.

It began, as so many preteen stories do, with a lie.

“I forgot my bathing suit,” I mumbled to my dad, watching his face crumple in dismay. “You forgot your bathing suit?”, he roared in response, gesturing in disbelief at the placid beauty of the Connecticut lake that surrounded us.

I was twelve years old, and we were huddled together on the deck of Diane von Furstenberg’s motorboat, with the legendary designer standing just a few feet away. We’d been invited out for an afternoon ride courtesy of my dad’s new girlfriend, who’d been friends with Diane for years. My tween existence was devoid of fashion legends, and our family mailbox had yet to clutter with the Teen Vogues that would clue me in to Diane’s exalted status in the world of clothes. Nonetheless, I was aware that we were in the presence of someone legendary.

I was a forgetful kid, prone to leaving my retainer case on the subway and—in one memorable instance—somehow misplacing my wallet between check-in and security at JFK. So the frustration in my dad’s tone at hearing I’d forgotten my swimsuit for a day of swimming was warranted.

He didn’t have the whole story, though. I’d left my one-piece balled up in my Jansport at home not as an oversight, but in an act of desperation. The night before, I’d finally fulfilled Judy Blume’s prophecy, going to the bathroom to find my Soffe shorts stained with blood—I’d yelped out loud before dimly recalling the biological fact of menstruation, at which point my panic morphed from “Oh God, I’m dying” to “Oh God, I’m supposed to go swimming with one of the world’s most influential fashion designers tomorrow, it would be good if I died.”

I was staying with my dad and his girlfriend at her Connecticut country home, too embarrassed to alert anyone to the situation, five years away from being able to drive legally, and six years before apps like Postmates that would discreetly deliver a box of Tampax right to your door (along with the requisite Advil and bag of Fritos.) Cramps pulsing in my stomach, I made do with some folded-up toilet paper and soothed myself to sleep in the blue light of my laptop, screen still displaying my frantic Google query: “Can you stop period overnight?”

The day of the boat trip, I woke up early for the drive to the lake. I wish I had more details about the day—what lake it was, what Diane wore (some sort of billowing apres-pool number, I assume?), what I choked down for breakfast—but to be honest, the details of this story have been confined to the vaguest recesses of my mind, forced there in an attempt to protect my consciousness from the memory. (@ Garage: I want a raise.)

As my dad called me out for forgetting my suit, I sunk into a full humiliated-tween slump, turning so red that Diane herself (this part I remember with complete clarity) read the room and called my father over to intervene. I don’t know what she said to my dad, but I can only assume it was some combination of “tween girl + deep shame + ‘forgotten’ swimsuit on a cloudless day = period.” (When pressed for comment, my dad confirmed Diane gently asked whether I’d gotten my period, and—when he looked mystified—told him she would handle it.)

Clutching a discreet feminine sanitary product from Diane, I made my way to the bathroom, bloodied but not bowed, secure in the knowledge that I was firmly in tune with the moon and the tides that surrounded me. The designer who had swathed generations of women before me in wrap dresses had handed me the tools necessary to delve without fear into any body of water I chose; if this was an accurate preview of womanhood, I could handle it. Diane Von Furstenberg, a figure as luminous and regal as the moon herself, had my back.

diane von furstenburg