an occasion to celebrate the legacy of that witty and imperious
arbiter of elegance, Diana Vreeland (1903-1989). Editor of
Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962 and of Vogue from
1963-1971, she was later a Special Consultant to the Metropolitan
Museum, where she organized costume shows including the famous
The World of
Vreeland at Vogue, 1966 Photo: James Karales/Look
fashion editor brought humor and a wicked intelligence to the
fashion magazine business. All this done with the help of
photography that was dramatically beautiful and occasionally outré
with the likes of Beaton, Horst, Avedon, Penn, Lichfield, Snowdon.
The celebration of new designers, and the championing of American
fashion. Models of color and glimpses of nudity. And
the very idea of opulence and fantasy, an Oriental sumptuousness.
"....I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible
for the public. Give ‘em what they never knew they wanted."
with Jackie Kennedy, the editor of Allure, at a party for the
is some strange photography book-meets-fashion tome.
Pictures which to Vreeland capture the ineffable.
"Cecil's (Beaton) pictures have opalescence--the quality emanating
from an opal, the feeling of being inside an opal."
news clippings, paparazzi shots, fashion stills from her time at
the magazines, photographs that define a certain aesthetic, her
himself described Vreeland's face as that of
Louise Wilson in the foreword to the 1984 autobiography D.V.:
language has the exhilarating effect of Cole Porter lyrics."
Penn for Vogue, 1965
Some of the
imperious gems from D.V.:
"She was a
peasant and a genius. Peasants and geniuses are the only
people who count, and she was both."
brought a sense of humor to the job of fashion editor:
“I mean a
new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in
consciousness of color. Think pink:
adore pink. I love the pale Persian pinks of the little
carnations of Provence and Schiaparelli’s pink, the pink of the
Incas... And though its so vieux jeu I can hardly bear to
repeat it...pink is the navy blue of India."
"Vreeland--with a V! I say whenever
I have to give my name over a telephone. V as in 'victory'! V as
light, and violence, again:
is everything in a color. Its affected by the way the sun shines
in certain countries....the violent violet of heather under the
blue Scottish sky..."
is the hardest color in the world to get right."
(on Vreeland's departure from Vogue):
you came in to see her, there she was in the bright red office
with the leopard skin rug and the bulletin board that inspired you
with all the pictures. The next morning the office was
beige, the rug was beige and Vogue was beige."
Beaton, Princess Berar, 1940s
Vreeland: "I'm mad about her nose."
And this is
what one takes away from this collection of photographs: Allure as
drama (Maria Callas’s mouth open in a violent grimace), and drama
as always exaggerated (eyes are inevitably limned in black and are
large, as are diamonds. Vreeland to Harry Winston:
“But you know our cup of tea--we like things in rather a big way,
otherwise they don’t show.)
“If you are born with too small a nose the one
thing you want to do is build it up.”
are confident, the tendency is towards perfection (even if it
means artifice). These photographs are not the pigeon-toed
poses of the fashionistas in the
nothing here is cute or hip or funky. This is allure,
around you....like a perfume or like a scent. It’s like
Bailey for Vogue, 1970
Vreeland, with Christopher Hemphill
Spanish Master--at the Spanish Institute