Fashion Profile: Diana Vreeland

Fashion, Uncategorized


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Diana Vreeland, was a ballet dancer, a socialite and a known friend of Coco Chanel, all before she even began to work for Harper’s Bazaar. Her professional writing career began with the magazine in 1936 where she reigned over the column “Why Don’t You?” and provided tips like – washing a blonde baby’s head in dead champagne. She was hired for the job thanks to her impeccable dressing- the editor Carmel Snow, saw her in a dance club and phoned her the next day to hire her. She was wearing a white Chanel dress, a bolero and roses in her hair.
Sadly, with the retirement of Carmel Snow came the spurious snub, Vreeland, the senior-most editor with most experience was passed over in favour of Snow’s niece. But not before Vreeland managed to discovered Lauren Bacall at a charity blood donation drive.

From here she went onto Vogue as the Editor-In-Chief and erupted onto the pages in an orgy of unabashedly hedonistic fashion. This was perfect, as it was the 60’s and the world was a fantasy sphere with twinkling trippy lights. Her talent for ‘discovering’ remained as astute as ever with Veruschka, Tree, Twiggy, Anjelica Huston, Marisa Berenson, Edie Sedgwick joining Bacall’s ranks.  Vreeland’s tastes ran in the extremes but she was always unbelievably accurate with her predictions, the part from The Devil Wears Prada, where they say Miranda Priestly decided success or banishment? That was a lift directly from Vreeland.
However, with the waning of the decade, the period of Diana Vreeland came to an end as well. The practical, feminism of the 70’s was everything that Diana could not, would not, comprehend. Vogue understood this and knew that Vreeland never would, so they fired her.

In a tale reminiscent of a phoenix rising from the ashes, Vreeland didn’t end up as a broken woman in a cramped apartment. She became the Costume Consultant to the Met and mounted a staggering 14 exhibitions in 14 years. Starting from Balenciaga in 1973 she transformed the image of Costume Institute from the historical archive into the fashion treasure box it is now. Her on-point fashion sense mixed with her garrulous theatricality made her the perfect foil for the, then sliding, Costume Institute. She is universally credited with making the Institute a costume and couture donation hot-spot, with movies, plays and individuals making it a point to donate outrageous outfits as soon as they were off the set or the red carpet.

She eventually retired from the Met and took over the New York social scene as effortlessly as she had in 30’s and became a point of reference for all future fashion editors to follow. Her death, in 1989 was less of a tragedy and more of a winding down of the show. She was surrounded and loved by her family, friends and mourned by the countless girls feverishly painting their nails red to knock on Vogue’s doors.




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