The life of Diana Vreeland seen through 20 eye-travelling facts.
Text: Leonidas Liolios
1. Born in Paris, France, by a wealthy couple as Diane Dalziel Vreeland in 1903.
2. Being the daughter of socialites she used to hang out with artists and important personas of the 20th century from a young age. Among them dancers from the Ballets Russes, which defined her aesthetic and being in general.
3. She had a beautiful sister, who her mother loved and praised and quite often compare to Diane with pity. The relationship between her and her mother were always at stake.
4. She lived her childhood between Paris and New York, where she moved after WWI broke out and Paris was dictated by German forces.
5. The roaring 20s have been the ultimate years of fun and reputation-gaining for Vreeland who aimed to become the most popular socialite of the decade.
6. In 1936 she began her career as a columnist after Carmel Snow, acclaimed editor of Harper’s Bazaar took notice of her indisputable taste in style and posed the question that would mark the rest of her life: Why don’t you come and write your own column?” And thankfully she did. The name of the column was no other than “Why don’t you..”.
7. Her tips via her column were favored instantly during the “great depression era”(1929-1939) especially for being excellent style solutions at times that money and means were scarce.
8. During her time at Harper’s she favored outrageous for the time fashions such as the bikini for which she commented in 1946 “It’s the most important thing after the Atom bomb”.
9. Having an eye for talent she discovered and worked with some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century including Richard Avedon, Louis Dahl-Wolfe and Alexey Brofovitch.
10. Working her way up she became the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar until the early 1960s.
11. Despite her undeniable success her salary remained at 8k dollars per month, until she got a raise of just 1 thousand dollars.
12. Known for being passionate about foreign cultures she promoted Russia Egypt and Asia for their great taste in fashions and art. This included travels to these exact places, where costly but always breathtaking photo-shoots took place.
13. In 1962 she was hired by Vogue to serve as editor-in-chief. A higher salary and the allure of working in the most popular and legendary magazine as the key person played a huge part in her decision to leave Harper’s for good.
14. Adorning everything outrageous, different and provocative she favored the fashions of the swinging 60s in ways that no one else ever had, could or would.
15. Loving and celebrating difference she believed that strange characteristics should be embraced and pointed out. Thus she had Barbara Streisand pose for Vogue in profile, turning her nose into a symbol.
She believed that beauty is more than a gracefully harmonious face and body. Therefore she started hiring the most strange faces of the decade turning them into icons overnight. Amongst them the amazing Penelope Tree, the tiny legendary Twiggy, and the ultimate chameleon Veruschka Von Lehndorff.
16. Realising the impact of groups like the Beatles, she knew exactly what the readers needed and she gave it to them in full spreads. Back in the days of Harper’s Bazaar John F.Kennedy posed next to Jackie O’ after he was elected president of the United States only because of Jackie’s friendship with Diana, creating a huge buzz.
17. Growing into a symbol herself she started hanging out with the biggest names of the 60s scene such as Andy Warhol and his Supermodels. Studio 54 was a place you’d see Diana dancing in her lavish outfits and red nail polish.
18. Even though what she did for Vogue was beyond godlike as she incorporated art in an industry that was marketed more than any other industry she was sucked in 1971 for being overly costly in comparison to the profit Conde Nast was making out of Vogue.
19. The Metropolitan Museum of Art approached her and eventually hired her as a consultant. By 1984 (when she wrote her autobiography named D.V.) she had organized 12 exhibitions, all of which were completely successful. She was the first to plan an exhibition on a living designer, that of Yves Saint Laurent.
20. She died of a heart attack in 1989 at the age of 85 at Lenox Hill Hospital, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York City.