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Diana Vreeland, the fashion icon.
Diana Vreeland (born Diana Dalziel on July 29, 1903 in Parismarker, FrancemarkerAugust 22, 1989) was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker.

Vreeland was the eldest daughter of Americanmarker socialite mother Emily Key Hoffman and Britishmarker father Frederick Young Dalziel. Hoffman was a descendant of George Washington's brother as well as a cousin of Francis Scott Key. She also was a distant cousin of Pauline de Rothschild. Vreeland had one sister, Alexandra.


Vreeland's family emigrated to the United Statesmarker at the outbreak of World War I, and moved to 15 East 77th Street in New Yorkmarker, where they became prominent figures in society. On March 1, 1924, Diana Dalziel married Thomas Reed Vreeland, a banker, at St. Thomas' Church in New York, with whom she would have two sons: Thomas Reed Vreeland Jr.,who became an architect as well as a professor of architecture at UCLA, and Frederick Dalziel Vreeland (later U.S. ambassador to Moroccomarker). A week before her wedding, it was reported in The New York Times that her mother, Emily, had been named co-respondent in the divorce proceedings of Sir Charles Ross and his second wife, Patricia. The ensuing society scandal estranged Vreeland and her mother, who died in September 1928 in Nantucket, Massachusettsmarker.

After their honeymoon, the newlyweds moved to Albany, New Yorkmarker and raised their two sons, staying there until 1929. They then moved to 17 Hanover Terrace, Regent's Parkmarker, Londonmarker, previously the home of Wilkie Collins and Edmund Gosse. During her time in London, she danced with the Tiller Girls. Like Syrie Maugham and Elsie de Wolfe, other society women that ran their own boutiques, Diana operated a lingerie business near Berkeley Square whose clients included Wallis Simpson and Mona Williams. While living in London, she lived a luxurious life. She enjoyed playing tennis with Gertrude Lawrence in Regent's Park every morning.

She often visited Paris, where she would buy her clothes, mostly from Chanel, whom she had met in 1926. She was one of fifteen American women presented to King George V and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palacemarker on May 18, 1933.

In 1937, her husband's job brought them back to New York, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. He died in 1967.


Harpers Bazaar 1937-1962

Her publishing career began in 1937 as columnist for Harper's Bazaar. In 1937 the Vreelands moved from London to New York City. They found New York City to be extremely expensive. Carmel Snow, the editor of Harpers Bazaar was impressed with Vreeland's clothing style and asked her to work at the magazine. From 1937 until her resignation, Diana Vreeland ran a column for Harper's Bazaar called "Why Don't You?". One example is a suggestion she made in the column, " "Why don't you . . . Turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy-dress party?" According to Vreeland, "The one that seemed to cause the most attention was [...] "[Why Don't You] [w]ash your blond child's hair in dead champagne, as they do in France." Vreeland says that S.J. Perelman wrote a parody of it for the New Yorker magazine that outraged editor Carmel Snow.

Diana Vreeland "discovered" actress Lauren Bacall in the nineteen forties. A Harpers Bazaar cover from the early forties shows Lauren Bacall posing near a Red Cross office. Based on editor Vreeland's decision, "[t]here is an extraordinary photograph in which Bacall is leaning against the outside door of a Red Cross blood donor room. She wears a chic suit, gloves, a cloche hat with long waves of hair falling from it." Diana Vreeland was noted for taking fashion seriously. A typical remark at this was "The bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb," which she uttered in 1946. Vreeland disliked the common approach to dressing that she saw in the United States in the forties. She detested "strappy high heel shoes" and the "crepe de chine dresses" that women wore even in the heat of the summer in the country.

Until her resignation at Harpers Bazaar, she worked closely with Louise Dahl-Wolfe,Richard Avedon, Nancy White and Alexey Brodovitch. Diana Vreeland became Fashion Editor for the magazine. Richard Avedon said when he first met Diana Vreeland and worked for Harper's Bazaar, "Vreeland returned to her desk, looked up at me for the first time and said, 'Aberdeen, Aberdeen, doesn't it make you want to cry?' Well, it did. I went back to Carmel Snow and said, 'I can't work with that woman. She calls me Aberdeen.' And Carmel Snow said, 'You're going to work with her.' And I did, to my enormous benefit, for almost 40 years." Avedon said at the time of her death: '"She was and remains the only genius fashion editor[.]"

In 1955, the Vreelands moved to a new apartment which was decorated exclusively in red. Diana Vreeland had Billy Baldwin decorate her apartment. She said, "I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell." Regular attendees at the parties the Vreelands threw were socialite C.Z. Guest, composer Cole Porter and British photographer Cecil Beaton In 1957's Paramount movie musical Funny Face, the character of Maggie Prescott (as portrayed by Kay Thompson) was based on Diana Vreeland. In 1960 John F. Kennedy became president and Diana Vreeland advised the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in matters of style. "Vreeland advised Jackie throughout the campaign and helped connect her with fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who became chief designer to the first lady." "I can remember Jackie Kennedy, right after she moved into the White House.[...]It wasn't even like a country club, if you see what I mean-plain." Vreeland occasionally gave Mrs. Kennedy advice about clothing during her husband's administration, and small advice about what to wear on Inauguration Day in 1961.

In spite of being extremely successful, Diana Vreeland made a small amount of money from the Hearst corporation, which owned Harpers Bazaar. Vreeland says that she was paid eighteen thousand dollars a year from 1937 with a raise finally in 1959 of one thousand dollars. "San Simeonmarker must have been where the Hearst money went, I certainly never saw any of it."

Vogue 1963-1971 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

According to some sources, hurt that she was passed over for promotion at Harpers Bazaar in 1957, she joined Vogue in 1963. She was editor-in-chief until 1971. Vreeland enjoyed the sixties enormously because she felt that uniqueness was being celebrated. "If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body and good carriage." During her tenure at the magazine she discovered the sixties "youthquake" star Edie Sedgwick. In 1984 Diana Vreeland explained how she saw fashion magazines. "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. [...][I]t must have been 1966 or '67. I published this big fashion slogan: This is the year of do it yourself. [...][E]very 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!'"

After she was fired from Vogue, she became consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker in New York in 1971. By 1984, according to Vreeland's account, she had organized twelve exhibtions.Artist Greer Lankton created a life size portrait doll of Vreeland that is on display at the museum.

Later Years

In 1984, Vreeland wrote her autobiography, D.V. Diana Vreeland died in 1989. Vreeland was portrayed in the film Infamous (2006) by Juliet Stevenson. She was also portrayed in the film Factory Girl (2006) by Ileana Douglas.


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