Fashion Statement: Diana Vreeland

“Balenciaga did the most delicious evening clothes. Clothes aren’t delicious any more.” —fashion editor Diana Vreeland from D.V., her autobiography published on this day in 1984 that has since become the bible for anyone interested in the history of fashion. Vreeland influenced how women dressed and considered fashion during the 20th century probably more than any other single person. Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow courted Vreeland in 1936, after spotting her at an event at the St. Regis Hotel Read More »

Diana Vreeland Adds Another Feather to her Cap: Editor of Vogue

She had joined the hallowed team just seven months earlier, and on this day in 1962, Diana Vreeland was promoted from associate editor to editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. The question was: Why did Vreeland leave Harper’s Bazaar, where she had been editor for 25 years after founding her now-iconic “Why Don’t You…?” column and established herself as one of the world’s most respected fashion editors? “Her appearance at a fashion show is the highest accolade a designer can hope for,” wrote the New York Times following her resignation from Bazaar on March 2. “When she jots down the number or name of a model during a showing, other editors are quick to do the same. At her rare appearances backstage at a fashion show, high-placed executives trail after her as docilely as school girls.”

The newspaper diplomatically implied that “drastic changes” occurring amid the magazine industry were the reason for Vreeland’s resignation. But money might have had something to do with it. For 22 years the editor was paid the same salary of $18,000, only receiving her first raise—of $1,000—in 1959. Read More »

Emilio Pucci may have been Born to Aristocracy, but he was No Stranger to Getting his Hands Dirty

Some people have all the luck. Take a look at Signor Emilio Pucci. Born in 1914 to one of Florence’s oldest aristocratic families, the Italian fashion designer grew up with few cares, other than perfecting his moves on the ski slopes and tennis courts, that is. The gifted athlete did so well that he even skied for the Olympic team—twice. Later on, the now heavily decorated (naturally) Air Force captain perfected a fresh, new image: that of the quintessential European playboy and Renaissance man. He loved sports, fast cars and beautifully dressed women, and even created outfits for his lady friends whose wardrobes didn’t quite suit his tastes. But it’s tough to hate on Pucci, who died on this day in 1992. Sure, the handsome designer was handed just about every privilege a person could ask for—his haughty lineage even granted him the title of marquis at birth—but he was no stranger to getting his hands dirty. The same man that the New York Times described in 1959 as “tall, dark and with dashing distinction…resembling the hero of a romantic novel” later proudly claimed he was the first person in his family to work in 1,000 years, and told Time magazine, “Money is not the goal. If you do Read More »

Diana Vreeland Galloped

There’s only one thing in life and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration,” wrote Diana Vreeland toward the end of D.V., her 1984 stream-of-consciousness autobiography that has grown into a cult-classic. Vreeland lived those words, seeming to never have sat still or taken life for granted and always finding beauty, if sometimes in the oddest of things. But it is Vreeland herself who continually serves as inspiration for others some 21 years after her death. Just last month Zac Posen painted his models as “young Diana Vreelands” for his Spring 2011 show, earlier this year Saks 5th Avenue designed its spring 2010 catalogs around Vreeland’s famous “Why Don’t You…?” columns from Harper’s Bazaar, her endlessly quotable quotes, such as “Elegance is refusal,” are frequently rehashed and, on this day in 1995, one fan premiered “Full Gallop,” her one-woman show about the famed Vogue and Bazaar editrix, at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City.

Vreeland was often called “the Empress of Style” and she was. Who else could emphatically describe walking home in white slippers splattered with blood from a speakeasy massacre with the same aplomb and detail as she gushes over the extraordinary Read More »

Why Don’t You Just Do What Mrs. Vreeland Tells You?

It’s the column that every fashion editor wishes she’d thought of. But no one could have pulled it off like the peerless Mrs. Vreeland. It was the late 1930s and the country was just beginning to emerge, cautiously and bleary-eyed, from the Great Depression. Spending ridiculous amounts of money on frivolous and whimsical notions was not in the national mood, even for the well-to-do readership of Harper’s Bazaar. But in the August 1936 issue, then-columnist Diana Vreeland issued a call to arms of sorts for women to do just that, offering the one justification that’s nearly impossible to say no to: Why not?

The first “Why Don’t You…” column presented some reasonable and not-so-reasonable ideas for accessorizing: wear a bowler hat, stick Japanese hair pins in your hair, wear fruit hats, currants and cherries. And they just got more outlandish over the column’s 26-year run: Why don’t you own, as does one extremely smart woman, twelve diamond roses of all Read More »

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