A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere,it’s the life that you have in the dress.
This installment of W & M Wednesday is a three-fer, we’ve got a book that goes with a film that goes with a playlist. Diana Vreeland –The Eye Has to Travel is Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s companion book to her documentary film of the same name about her Grandmother-in-law “The Empress of Fashion” Diana Vreeland.
I don’t really know if I have heroes but if I do DV is certainly one of them. She wasn’t rich, she wasn’t beautiful and she wasn’t well educated but she had wit, imagination, and style. True style is hard to come by these days. In the words of Edna Woolman Chase, Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess. Vreeland’s style was completely her own, not governed by fashion trends or what her neighbor was wearing. But to think of her as only a fashion editor would be wrong. She had a unique way of looking at the world which she used to invent not only herself but to influence the larger culture.
Vreeland spent twenty-eight years as the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and her Why Don’t You column was famous for its amusing suggestions some practical, some not so very:
Why don’t you…
… rinse your blonde child’s hair in dead champagne as they do in France? …tie black tulle bows on your wrists? …own, as does one extremely smart woman, twelve diamond roses of all sizes? …paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?
… rinse your blonde child’s hair in dead champagne as they do in France?
…tie black tulle bows on your wrists?
…own, as does one extremely smart woman, twelve diamond roses of all sizes?
…paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?
She left Bazaar in 1964 to become the editor in chief of Vogue. During her tenure at both magazines she started many careers, but at Vogue she embraced the “Youthquake” of the time bringing a new generation of readers and reversing the magazine’s flagging fortunes. The public’s first exposure to the work of Mick Jagger, photographer David Bailey and Models Penelope Tree and Verushka came within the pages of Vogue.
When her time at Vogue ended in 1971 she went on to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She turned their annual costume ball into the must attend event of the social season in New York as it still is today.
Always on the lookout for the next idea she took inspiration from everywhere. In a profile of her the writer Jonathan Lieberson said She was perpetually scanning, monitoring, reaching for some idea, sensation or tangible item – a fingernail, a color, an eye socket, a squashed banana peel, a jewel – that would, in her words, “thrill me to madness”.
Watching the film, reading the essays and perusing the gorgeous photos and illustrations in the book makes you realize how rare an eye she had for talent, for culture and for real beauty. She was the rare person who found beauty in imperfection and lead by example when it came to making one’s flaws into virtues.
We have not nor are we likely to see the likes of Diana Vreeland again, and that is a shame. Immordino-Vreeland says At a time when the world is changing to quickly we need someone like Vreeland who celebrates original thought, beauty, and imagination. Through her work she has allowed us to live in other worlds and understand that life is malleable just as beauty is.
The world of DV is a great place to get lost and the film and its accompanying book makes it easy to do. And now we add a playlist to read by…
Kay Thompson -Think Pink – DV’s larger than life persona lead to several thinly veiled screen portrayals. I think Kay Thompson’s in Funny Face is the most delicious. DV once famously declared that pink is the navy blue of India.
Rolling Stones – Jumpin’ Jack Flash- Vogue under Vreeland was the first American Magazine to run a picture of Mick Jagger.
Yo-Yo Ma – Anything Goes – Because no one recognized changing times and mores more astutely than Diana Vreeland.
George Benson – This Masquerade – As RuPaul says We are born naked, everything else is just drag. I think DV would approve.
Lauren Bacall – How Little We Know – One of DV’s discoveries from her days at Bazaar. This was Bacall’s first film, and the one on which she met Humphrey Bogart. Oh, and by the way that’s Hoagy Carmichael on piano.Supposedly the voice you hear is not actually Bacall’s but fifteen year old Andy Williams.