Style icon: Diana Vreeland

by Sylvia

Diana Vreeland
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Photos by Jonathan Becker and Hoiningen-Huene

When I came across this quote from Diana Vreeland,

“Too much good taste can be boring”

I knew I had to feature her as a style icon.

diana vreeland

Photo by Richard Avendon

Who is Diana Vreeland?

The name of Diana Vreeland comes back again an again in fashion land as she was very influential for fashion in the 1960s. Vreeland, born as Diana Dalziel in 1903 in Paris, was the eldest daughter of American socialite mother Emily Key Hoffman and British father Frederick Young Dalziel. Growing up in affluance she later married the banker Thomas Reed Vreeman with whom she had 2 sons.

“You gotta have style. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. . . . And I’m not talking about a lot of clothes.”

Working at Harper’s Bazar

She started her publishing career in 1937 after moving from London to New York as a columnist for Harper’s Bazar. Reportedly she got the job after she was spotted dancing in a Chanel dress by editor Carmel Snow.  She wrote a column called “Why don’t you” and is said to have discovered Lauren Bacall in the 1940s. During her period at Harper’s Bazar she worked extensively with famed photographer Richard Avendon who famously said: “She was and remains the only genius fashion editor”.

diana vreeland with husband

Photo by George Platt Lyons

Working with Jackie Kennedy and Vogue

She also advised Jackie Kennedy what to wear during the inauguration of John F. Kennedy and other important occassions and introduced her to Oleg Cassini, who would become her personal designer. They remained lifelong friends.

She joined Vogue in 1963 where she stayed until 1971. Of her work at fashion magazines she commented:

“What these magazines gave was a point of view. Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them-and what’s more, they expect it from you. [...] t must have been 1966 or ’67. I published this big fashion slogan: This is the year of do it yourself. [...] Every store in the country telephoned to say, ‘Look, you have to tell people. No one wants to do it themselves-they want direction and to follow a leader!’”

style icon diana vreeland

Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolf 

About the changing style in the 60s

“The idea of beauty was changing. If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body and good carriage. You held your head high, and you were a beauty. . . .”

She featured lots of street fashion in her pages and created features that combined fantasy with glamour. She was later fired from Vogue in 1971 (appearantly due to excessive spending) after which she started working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Photo by Jonathan Becker

What is style and who has it?

Here are some thoughts from Diana Vreeland on the subject.

“Well, style is a word, it has only recently be taken up you know”

Diana Vreeland died on August 2, 1989, but her memory lives on… You can read more about Diana Vreeland in her outobiography and the book Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight.

“Style is something you’re born with, you don’t acquire it”

What do you think of that last style statement? Do you agree with her?

Sources: Wikipedia, New York Times

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Greetje

I presume she is right, but you can improve a whole lot if you are not born with it.
Never stop trying. If something has your interest, your passion, you can get a long way too.

Sylvia

I agree Greetje!

Buckle Button Zip

Some people have innate style, I agree, and the rest of us work years to find what essentially feels right. Thanks for the profile of DV.
x Laura

Sylvia

Thanks for the feedback Laura!

Jean at Dross into Gold

I think perhaps another way to say it is that people may be born with latent talents that help them create the art known as “style”, whether it’s a sensitivity to color and composition, or a flair for the dramatic. One can’t necessarily buy these qualities, so in that sense they’re “born” with them. But they also say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s style may be another man’s poison. I say, have fun.

Sylvia

Beautifully said Jean!

Ulla-Marie

“Too much good taste can be boring” is my alltime favorite quote. The last one … I’mnot sure …

Sylvia

I agree! The first quote is certainly a lot more inspirational.

Lisa

Love this article, Sylvia! DV was such and amazing style innovator who influenced so much in fashion. She was steadfast in her vision and stuck to her guns when she believed in a concept. Of all the style icons out there, were she still alive, DV is the one that I would love to chat up for hours and soak up her perspective.

Sylvia

Thanks Lisa. I would still like to learn a lot more about her…

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