Before Anna Wintour, there was Diana Vreeland. The editor of both Harper's Bazaar
, Vreeland brought a sweeping vitality to the scene and was known for taking fashion, above all else, very seriously. And she coined Pizzazz
for god's sake. The woman is everything.
By Chloe Dinga.
King of fashion photographer Richard Avedon refused to work with her initially. She bruised his ego by calling him Aberdeen in the Harper's Bazaar
offices. Ultimately he was forced to move past her faux pas and from their close working relationship that followed came this quote: "She was and remains the only genius fashion editor."
Diana Vreeland was born to an American socialite mother, a British father and a Parisian landscape. She was exposed to NYC soon after, and it was this cross continental fashion knowledge that helped her to become one of the greats. She lapped up luxury, detesting the drab American fashion scene of the 1940s -- when she first came onto the scene as editor of Harper's Bazaar
, and also when she declared the bikini to be "the most important thing since the atom bomb." To Diana, fashion was life. It was excitement, expression and something that should never, ever be dull. She earnestly advised Jacqueline Kennedy's fashion affairs during her husband's campaign, something she likely saw as a public service, seeing how plain
Kennedy was before she got her hands on her. Diana did not do plain. She reveled in the unique -- the '60s were her hey day as the time was a celebration of just that, and she couldn't help herself but to nickname it the Youthquake
. After leaving Harper's
and taking over as Editor in Chief at Vogue
in 1962 she became known for her ability to aptly classify and dissect the movements, desires and feelings of the times. She knew what would work and what wouldn't. I mean, after discovering both Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick, everyone knew she was on to something. She was an essential member of The Beautiful People
(her term) and spent her nights with the legendary likes of Anjelica Huston (aka Toots to those in the inner circle), Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger (and of course Bianca
!), Twiggy, and the list goes on.
The gravity with which she handled fashion is still sending ripples through the industry. She simultaneously changed the way women dressed and the way the magazine publishing realm functioned. She was the original terrifying editrix. Known for browbeating models and photographers, and frequently driving her staff to tears, she was no-nonsense, hugely intimidating and probably the basis for Anna Wintour's personality in entirety. Diana snatched fashion magazines from the clutches of society women (no more ladylike tips on how to please your husband) and used them as a platform for her innovative blend of high end luxury and commonality, albeit only the chicest of commonality, but commonality all the same. Huston asserts that Diana "had a taste for the extraordinary and the extreme," but she was still one of the first to give the go-ahead on denim.
She is the patron saint of magazine editors and, as Avedon contends, the only one to ever achieve true greatness. Although she has passed away, her genius lives on in every bikini you own, glossy you buy and skull cap you wear. Hail to the great.
"To be contented is for the cows." -- DV
[caption id="attachment_11015" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Vreeland & Avedon analyze their model"]
[caption id="attachment_11016" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="what a dream come true: office cigs"]
[caption id="attachment_11017" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Vreeland's all red only apartment"]
[caption id="attachment_11018" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="Diana Vreeland by Andy Warhol"]
[caption id="attachment_11019" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Vreeland & Marisa Berenson"]
[caption id="attachment_11021" align="aligncenter" width="485" caption="Vreeland comic"]
[caption id="attachment_11023" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="a Vreeland spread in 1968 US Vogue"]
[caption id="attachment_11025" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Vreeland, Warhol & Fred Hughes"]
[caption id="attachment_11026" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Vreeland at the Costume Institute at a Balenciaga exhibit"]
[caption id="attachment_11029" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Front row at Dior"]