The stylist for Jackie Kennedy, noted columnist and editor for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and the costume consultant for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Diana Vreeland was a lady of the highest accord.
Born in 1903 in Paris, Vreeland was one of two daughters to Emily Key Hoffman and Frederick Young Dalziel. The girl who spotted Lauren Bacall was a force to be reckoned with from an early age, and now has legendary status in pop culture through the films Infamous and more recently Factory Girl.
Vreeland had a magazine oriented career, being stationed at Harpers Bazaar from1937 through to 1963 and Vogue between 1963 and 1971. Vreeland made a huge contribution to Harper’s Bazaar as a publication, given the odd 26 years she was there. Based in NYC for the position, Vreeland began writing a column called “Why Don’t You?” and eventually became fashion editor for the magazine. In the 1940’s during her time as fashion editor, Vreeland discovered Lauren Bacall and featured the femme fatale beauty on the cover, wearing a chic suit, gloves, holding a cloche hat and sporting long waves which fell neatly around her chiseled jaw line.
Vreeland had a fervent passion for 1940s fashion, most notably commenting on the bikini as the “most important thing since the atom bomb” giving women more freedom in their clothing. Vreeland disliked the strappy high heel shoes and crepe de chine dresses popular in the United States, and looked more to the Continent for inspiration. But after the fall of France in 1940, Hollywood drove fashion in the United States almost entirely, with the exception of a few trends coming from war-torn London.
Despite the outbreak of war during the 40’s and the associated challenges imposed by shortages of nylon, wool and leather, the fashion industry was still burning along at a rapid pace. Skirts may have had shorter hemlines, but hats, gloves and coats could not be more in-vogue. Floral prints seemed to dominate, with geometric patterns and shapes emerging in the late 1940s. The colour palette even seemed to go to war, with patriotic nautical themes and dark greens, with khaki dominating many collections. Trousers and wedges of course emerged due to shortages in stockings.
Diana Vreeland was in the midst of this very radical, shifting and exciting time for all things fashion related. In 1963, Vreeland joined Vogue as editor-in-chief, which was an equally exciting time to be in the industry. The 1960’s witnessed loads of individuality and cutting-edge designs, with Vreeland being a strong voice and influence as Vogue Editor. During her tenure at the magazine, she discovered the 60’s “youthquake” Edie Sedgewick and pioneered the love of cute pin-up girls in bubble high-waisted dresses.
Vreeland now exists as a legend in the field and artist Greer Lankton has recreated a life size portrait dolls of the incredible woman on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.