On my recent holiday to visit my family in America, I watched the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel. I know about Mrs. Vreeland and have read various things about her in the past, but this documentary fueled me to want to know more about this dynamic woman! Watching her on film and in her own words, I was uplifted and inspired to CREATE CREATE CREATE!!! And to follow my passion, heart, and creative soul.
Mrs. Vreeland was born during the Belle Epoque in Paris. Her family moved to New York City where she became an elite socialite and dancer, and she spent her young adulthood in the roaring 1920’s. She married and not long after moved to London with her husband and children. She owned a lingerie boutique in Berkeley Square and enjoyed the social scene. In 1936 the Vreelands returned to New York City, and she began to write a column for Harpers Bazaar called Why Don’t You… in which she made crazy recommendations to readers of the Great Depression era such as “wash your blonde child’s hair in dead champagne, as they do in France” and, “give a satin-finished platinum box with all of the diamonds, rubies, and sapphires in the world scooped together and smeared into a lovely design on the lid”. I love that she just wanted to inspire her readers to dream of impossible glamour so that perhaps they would strive to achieve just a touch of it!
She became fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar and worked with the top photographers of the 1940’s and 50’s to create some iconic editorials that are still referenced today, such as Richard Avedon’s “Dovima with the Elephants”. She discovered many models as well, including Lauren Bacall. She advised Jacqueline Kennedy on her wardrobe, including her Inauguration attire. She left to become editor-in-chief at Vogue magazine in 1963, where she continued to influence the editorials with her taste and style. She loved the “anything goes” attitude of the swinging 60’s. She discovered other timeless beauties including Edie Sedgwick and Ali Macgraw (who was her assistant!). Her memos to her staff from this period are simply remarkable and full of her splendid charm and wit. Although, I suspect she would have been a beast to work for! She was fired from Vogue in 1971 due to declining readership, however she was not going to retire. She joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Consultant to the Costume Institute. She restructured their displays and curated 12 special exhibitions whose opening nights became huge social occasions for designers, artists, and celebrities. This event is now the Costume Institute Gala which is held every year and is the top social event in the fashion world.
Mrs. Vreeland wrote her autobiography in 1984, titled D.V.. She passed away in 1989 at the age of 85 in New York City. She lived her life with pizzaz, passion, and style and left an incredible legacy of beauty and art. I love the way she was completely OTT. Her office walls covered in images she loved and was inspired by, her apartment decorated in red florals like “a garden in hell”. She is a huge inspiration to me and my career, I am compelled to follow my gut instinct and pursue my passions even more intensely after learning about this incredible woman! I hope this blog entices you to research about her for yourself. And watch the documentary!!! That incredible film!!! Anna Wintour only wishes she was this good...
Some further reading: