An Illustrated Biography
By Eleanor Dwight
(Harper Design, Paperback, 9780062032089, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 2011
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Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor of the twentieth century. She had an incredible aura of glamour and a genius for enlivening life with enticing fantasy. Diana Vreeland goes behind the scenes to tell her storyhow, with innate talent and hard work, the imaginative and ambitious daughter of an old New York society family became a legendary arbiter of fashion and style. It reveals the growth of her professional prowess and details her personal history, as it captures Vreeland's pizzazz, humor, flair, and flamboyance.
This beautiful bookwith a new preface by Vreeland's protÉgÉ and renowned fashion authority AndrÉ Leon Talleyis lavishly illustrated with more than three hundred drawings and photographs, many by the best fashion photographers of the time: Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, and BrassaÏ. Here, too, are the trendsetters, artists, models, and celebrities with whom Vreeland worked and played, including Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Elsie de Wolfe, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, and Jacqueline Kennedy.
The fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar from 1937 to 1962, Vreeland first shook things up with her "Why Don't You...?" column. Working with the legendary editor Carmel Snow, she drastically changed the look of the magazine by using provocative, exciting photography. As editor in chief of Vogue from 1962 to 1971, she brought vitality and beauty to its pages, letting her photographers and editors follow their own creative bents, sending them off to shoots in foreign lands and encouraging them to use their talents in fresh and provocative ways.
In 1972, she became special consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, where she masterminded costume extravaganzas, contributing to the new age of blockbuster museum exhibitions and bringing hundreds of thousands to see costume history.
When Vreeland became blind in the mid-1980s she said it was because she had seen so many beautiful things. When she died in 1989 she became a legend. Her story is a vibrant and extraordinary one.
Eleanor Dwight is the author of several biographies on women including Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life and The Gilded Age: Edith Wharton and Her Contemporaries. Her most recent book is Tie Breaker: Jimmy Van Alen and Tennis in the 20th Century. She lives in New York City.
“Diana Vreeland was the beacon of fashion for the twentieth century. She spotted, attracted, and showcased the most talented designers, photographers, illustrators, models, and fashion icons and gave their genius a glamorous theater. This book is a beautiful tribute to her.”
-Diane Von Furstenberg
“D.V. dazzled and dazed you, laughed, sang, and prophesized in a single sentence. She was a self-made triumph of spirit, distilling all the world’s glories.... In this wonderful book, you get to sit at her knee and see how she made herself-this quintessential all-tribe American.”
“Dwight gives new richness and poignancy to a personality appreciated primarily for her epigrammatic wit, dramatic flair, and compelling style.... a nuanced portrait of a twentieth-century woman, socially liberated and intellectually unfettered, a modern careerist who never shed her Edwardian proprieties, a woman in full.”
-Harold Koda, Director, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art