style icon

Style Icon: Diana Vreeland

by Amy Azzarito

I hadn’t intended for Diana Vreeland to be my next style icon. But then it snowed, and Grace texted me to say that she was having a great time watching the Diana Vreeland documentary. And I am nothing if not a copycat, so I promptly Googled and found . Two hours later, I was a huge fan. I had known about Diana Vreeland but only an abstract — namely that she was the editor at Vogue with that red living room. After watching, I came away with an entirely new respect for what she brought to the fashion industry and the way that she operated with a razor-sharp vision.

Diana was 33 before she got her break in the magazine industry. At the time, she was married with two young sons and living in New York City. Carmel Snow, the editor at Harper’s Bazaar, spotted Diana at party and was so impressed with her personal style that she asked Diana to write a column for the magazine. Diana moved from penning a single column to working as fashion editor. While at Harper’s Bazaar, Diana discovered Lauren Bacall and worked closely with Richard Avedon. She wasn’t easy to work with or for, but she had a vision. And she took fashion seriously, albeit hyperbolically. She once said that “the bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb.” — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Diana Vreeland in that iconic red living room designed by Billy Baldwin.

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The full post continues after the jump . . .

Image above: From

In 1955, the Vreelands moved to a new apartment in New York, and Diana asked Billy Baldwin to decorate. She told him that she wanted the apartment to look like a garden — a garden in hell. He complied, creating an amazing elaborate red garden scheme. In 1962, Diana went to work at Vogue, where she was the editor-in-chief from 1963 until 1971. She was known for working from bed in the mornings and showing up at her office around noon. When she was fired from Vogue, she became the consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, where she organized (by her count) 12 exhibitions. She got a bit of flak for the accuracy of the exhibitions, but she knew how to pack in the crowds. She published her memoir, , in 1984 and died in 1989.

Fun Facts

  • The 1957 musical Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn featured a character — Maggie Prescott — based on Diana Vreeland.
  • During the 1960 presidential campaign, Diana advised Jacqueline Kennedy in matters of style.


If you want to read more about Diana Vreeland, Vanity Fair did a great piece .

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