Diane von Furstenberg once called Diana Vreeland a "beacon of fashion for the twentieth century." Now, in this definitive biography by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, is the story of the iconic fashion editor as you've never seen her before. From her career at the helms of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, to her reign as consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vreeland had an enormous impact on the fashion world and left a legacy so enduring that must-have style guides still quote her often wild and always relevant fashion pronouncements.Read more...
Diane von Furstenberg once called Diana Vreeland a "beacon of fashion for the twentieth century." Now, in this definitive biography by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, is the story of the iconic fashion editor as you've never seen her before. From her career at the helms of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, to her reign as consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vreeland had an enormous impact on the fashion world and left a legacy so enduring that must-have style guides still quote her often wild and always relevant fashion pronouncements.
With access to Vreeland's personal material and photographs, critically acclaimed biographer Amanda Mackenzie Stuart has written the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at Diana Vreeland and her world a jet-setting social scene that included Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Lauren Bacall, Penelope Tree, Lauren Hutton, Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and the Kennedys. Filled with gorgeous color photographs of her work, Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland is an elegant and fascinating account of one of the most revered tastemakers of the 20th century."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-10-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Adored by some and thought abrasive and disagreeable by others, fashion icon Diana Vreeland and her psyche and cultural milieu are superbly deconstructed by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart (Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and Mother in the Gilded Age). Vreeland (1903–1989) was fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and later the infamous editor-in-chief of Vogue during the tumultuous 1960s. Told she was ugly by her troubled and beautiful mother, Vreeland escaped into a private fantasy world. Her creation of an idealized image she called the Girl, coupled with a creative flair “and the development of an idiosyncratic way with words,” propelled Vreeland into becoming one of the most influential tastemakers in American fashion. Photos by Richard Avedon, snapped around the world from the Arctic Circle to the Far East, paired with “Youthquake” fashions modeled by Jean Shrimpton and Veruschka, exposed readers to new ways of seeing fashion and the world. Vreeland possessed that rare sense for the next “it” object, person, or music style of the moment. “She looked instead for trends, particularly those that played themselves out through fashion and she put her own stamp on the decade as she did so.” Stuart’s biography is a tasty and erudite study of a complicated woman and her turbulent and colorful cultural life and times. (Dec.)
The patina of taste
Diana Vreeland launched herself at Harper’s Bazaar with the column “Why Don’t You?”: “Why don’t you rinse your blonde child’s hair in dead champagne to keep its gold, as they do in France?” Such love for the superficial and luxurious may have been out of step with the austerity of the 1930s, but it foretold the direction of much of 20th-century American fashion. As fashion editor at both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue—where she was an early promoter of “youthquake” trends in the 1960s—and later as curator of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, Vreeland’s professional influence was as eccentric as her personal style.
Rail-thin with severe black hair and a distinctive, crane-like profile, Vreeland’s style developed as compensation for her perception that she was unattractive. In the insightful new biography Empress of Fashion, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart shows how Diana’s debutante mother rejected her “ugly” daughter in favor of her more conventionally pretty sister. This hurt Diana, but she did not allow it to shape her life. Reinventing herself as “The Girl”—immaculate, stylish and positive—led to five decades of fashion-forward professional success.
Stuart uses Vreeland’s vulnerable roots to create a sympathetic portrait of Diana, and also to explain her notorious lies about her background, such as her stories about growing up in Belle Époque Paris instead of New York City. She believed in telling the best story possible; if that meant gliding over the hurt of being an unloved daughter, so be it.
Diana Vreeland’s life story is oddly inspiring. Why don’t you give a copy of Empress of Fashion to your favorite fashionista this holiday season?