Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grateful for Vreeland

A delightfully entertaining read is offered in the new, big, over-sized, hard-cover book Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years. Vreeland, the legendary fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar, editor in chief at Vogue, and Special Consultant at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an endlessly fascinating figure who has been the subject of numerous articles, books and a documentary. This book of Vreeland's Vogue memos was lovingly edited by her grandson Alexander Vreeland. He is the son of Frederick Vreeland, who was a diplomat, and husband of Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who produced the documentary and book about Diana Vreeland called The Eye Has to Travel.

In his charming introduction, Alexander recalls his grandmother's habits. When Diana Vreeland was the editor of Vogue, she typically worked in the bathroom of her Park Avenue apartment in the morning, dictating memos and letters over the phone to her secretaries. By the time she arrived at the office, which was never before noon, she was done with her daily correspondence.

Alexander remembers visiting his grandmother as a boy in her office for lunch where a small card table would be set up for them to eat together. She listened intently to her grandson as she enjoyed her lunch of a peanut butter sandwich, a glass of whiskey and a bowl of ice cream. Then she was back to work, creating her infamous issues of Vogue.

Her memos and letters collected in the book reveal her exacting mind and super creative imagination. Vreeland knew precisely what she wanted to see in the pages of her magazine, and these memos describe to her staff in words how to get it. Besides her famous visual eye, she was a gifted writer and copy editor. Some of the memos are like poetry; they express her intellect, optimism and enthusiasm. Here are a couple of my favorites and how they are pictured in the book –

"There will be amusing ways of doing things...
putting things on...
thinking about yourself...
being who you are... the way you want to be..."

"Let's keep to blue because of sky and marvelous tiling everywhere...
vivid blues, mixed blues, printed blues, blue, blue all the way." 

"Think Nureyev is absolutely sensational!"

"Let's make our writing the best... let's have it flow and have a rhythm...
I think this piece so really important that it should be written over again."

"I wish that we could have a spiritual article that would give people a bit of a lift."

"Beauty is in all things that love and are loved,
animals and children, and if women have it,
it is because they feel completely free in this
world and in their lives as they feel close to God...
and they are spiritually in tune with the universe."

Diana Vreeland is the gift that keeps on giving.
Best wishes and happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


Unknown said...

What a woman! I love the quirkiness of people (those lunches) and vibrancy. Thanks for sharing.

Bart Boehlert said...

Abigail, She is a continuing inspiration! I admire her very positive outlook –

Dean Farris said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. What a divine inspiration Mrs. Vreeland has been to so many fortunate, creative people.