Thursday, January 24, 2013

THE MUSE: Diana Vreeland The Godmother of American Fashion

I think stars are the only thing we have. We have a star, we follow a star… we may throw that star out tomorrow, but today, without a star, we wouldn’t move at all.” Diana Vreeland
Diana Vree­landf is one of the most influ­en­tial women of the 20th cen­tury, an endur­ing icon whose influ­ence changed the face of fash­ion, beauty, art, pub­lish­ing and cul­ture itself forever.Diana Vreeland led Vogue from 1963 to 1971, but her present-day counterpart Anna Wintour 

Dur­ing Diana Vree­land’s fifty year reign as the “Empress of Fash­ion,” she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onas­sis, and estab­lished count­less trends that have with­stood the test of time. She was the fash­ion edi­tor of Harper’s Bazaar where she worked for twenty-five years before becom­ing editor-in-chief of Vogue, fol­lowed by a remark­able stint at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Museum of Art’s Cos­tume Insti­tute, where she helped pop­u­lar­ize its his­tor­i­cal collections.

Diana Vreeland in Elsa Schiaparelli, Harper’s Bazaar, April 1937 
 "I believe you see, in the dream. I think we only live through our dreams and our imagination. That's the only reality we really ever know.” -Diana Vreeland

"You know the greatest thing is passion, without it what have you got? I mean if you love someone you can love them as much as you can love them but if it isn't a passion, it isn't burning, it isn't on fire, you haven't lived."
-Diana Vreeland

“Style was a standard. Didn’t hurt anyone… But you gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.” -Diana Vreeland

Diana's signature color was red, but she never found the perfect shade, which was, according to her, "the color of a child's cap in any Renaissance portrait."

A good photograph was never what I was looking for. I like to have a point. I had to have a point or I didn’t have a picture. This is what I’ve always found so fascinating about paparazzi pictures. They catch something unintended, on the wing… they get that thing. It’s the revelation of personality.” -Diana Vreeland

“I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere. It was me — projecting to the public. That was my job. I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the public. GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY NEVER KNEW THEY WANTED.” -Diana Vreeland
"Mrs. Vreeland was one of the most exceptional people I have met in all my life. Her force of character, her glamour, her intelligence, her innate sense of elegance and her exuberance energized all those who met her.” Yves Saint Laurent
“There’s nothing more boring than narcissism - the tragedy of being totally… me. We’re all capable of it. And we all know examples of it - these beautiful tragedies…. I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” -Diana Vreeland
"Diana always taught me that there are no boundaries for the imagination."-Issey Miyake
It wasn't just about the magazines Vreeland had a wild old time before she came to editing. Born in Paris, her family moved to New York where she studied dance under a Russian ballet master, and – legend has is – rode horses with Buffalo Bill. She married banker Thomas Vreeland in 1924 and they lived in London, where Vreeland danced with the Tiller Girls and sold lingerie to Wallis Simpson. The adventures didn't stop when she got a proper job – Vreeland became a regular at Studio 54. She wanted to be, as she said, "where the action was".
some of her iconic work:

  • The pillows in her home were infused with perfume via hypodermic needles.
  • Before becoming a fashion editor, Diana had a lingerie shop in London. Legend has it that Wallis Simpson seduced Edward, then Prince of Wales, while wearing one of Diana's nightgowns. "Mom's store brought down the British Empire," her son Frederick once joked. She often had her own nightgowns tailored, with up to three fittings on a single one.
  • She always had her dollar bills and her tissues ironed before putting them in her handbag.
  • She ate the same lunch every day: a whole-wheat peanut-butter-and-marmalade sandwich, washed down with scotch. 
  • She rarely left the house before noon, and she often conducted serious business from her tub.
  • The only thing Diana loved more than fashion was reading, and her favorite book was Moby-Dick. "My life has been more influenced by books than by any other one thing," she said.
  • Hollywood director Joel Schumacher got his start working with her as a fashion stylist
  • She had her custom-made shoes shined for years before she ever started wearing them. And once they entered her rotation, she had the leather and the soles shined every day.
  • She approved of jeans but only on the right body: "I think blue jeans are the most beautiful things in the world, and they can be as tight as you can wear them, but only if you look well and have long limbs."
  • Paris's Hôtel de Crillon reserved her personal bed linens for her frequent visits.
  • Her grandson Nicholas is a Tibetan Buddhist monk (the first Westerner to be made an abbot), while my husband, Alexander, has always worked in fashion.
  • She loved surfing though she'd never been on a board.
  • Diana's Kabuki-like blush was a signature that not everyone understood. A kindly flight attendant once offered,"Here, honey, let me rub in your rouge for you."
  • Her "Why Don't You...?" column was parodied in a 1938 issue of The New Yorker: "If a perfectly strange lady came up to you on the street and demanded, 'Why don't you travel with a little raspberry-colored blanket to throw over yourself...' the chances are that you would...hit her with a bottle."
  • She loved flaws Vreeland wasn't into a rarefied untouchable beauty – she wanted to celebrate what made people unique. Barbra Streisand's nose was seen up close and personal on American Vogue, Penelope Tree's alien-like look was championed, so was Twiggy's skinny frame. From John Lennon to Jackie Kennedy, she wanted personality. Her motto could have been "it takes all sorts".
  • She invented the fashiion exhibition as we know it after she was fired from Vogue in 1971, Vreeland curated exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although her historical accuracy could be off – she often confused centuries and was the first to admit she was" terrible on facts" – her work banished any academic stuffiness, and drew millions of visitors through the doors. The Met's annual fashion exhibition – now resided over by Vreeland's ex-assistant, Harold Koda – is her legacy.
  • She was the Oscar Wilde of fashion "Pink is the navy-blue of India," so said Vreeland – but that's just her most famous quip. This fashion editor was the queen of the one-liners. Others include "I loathe narcissism but I adore vanity" & "the best thing about London is Paris". For more, 
  • The 60s would be nothing without her Joining Vogue in 1962, Vreeland was a pop-culture magpie and the perfect editor to document the decade unfolding around her. While Vogue in the 50s was for society ladies in white gloves, she put Mick Jagger, Veruschka, Twiggy and Cher in the magazine and had Ali MacGraw as her assistant. The youthquake, as it became known, pulsed through the magazine. Vreeland also had a hand in creating one of the icons of the decade – consulting with Jackie Kennedy on her clothes, and scoring the first pictures of the presidential couple.

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