Book Review | Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight

Originally published January 3, 2012. the blog post may have been edited for clarity and updated with relevant information and links.

Diana Vreeland
Written by Eleanor Dwight

Up to this point, I did not know who Diana Vreeland actually was. It is sinful, I know.

After reading many fashion biographies and articles, I had the impression she was a model. I was not entirely wrong with this impression—she had in fact modeled for one Harper’s Bazaar shoot in her early years. The book does note her unique and unusual appearance and her relationship with “collecting” beautiful people and beautiful things in her life to compensate for her own look. However, I stand by the fact that Vreeland was a model: a model for what fashion should be.

Vreeland did write her own autobiography, DV, which was described as a fanciful illustration of the former editor of both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. It is filled with all of Vreeland’s glamour, clever quips, and anecdotes, but it is not entirely fact. At the end of DV, Vreeland admits that the truth really does not matter in the end, because who cares?

The biography captures Vreeland in a more “historically accurate” light but still captures Vreeland’s youthful and vivacious personality. One discrepancy settled in Diana Vreeland reveals that Vreeland only lived a few years in Europe in her youth as opposed to over a decade which she declared to friends and colleagues.

The book follows Vreeland through her younger years in Brewster, NY with her extravagant, social mother; her conservative, accountant father; and her beautiful, but more practical, younger sister, Alexandra. Then, it explores her relationship with her husband Reed Vreeland and their sons Tim and Frecky throughout the book alongside her career at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and later the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Many pictures of Vreeland’s family, friends, and fashion shoots make Vreeland come alive. There is one particular page that shows Vreeland’s many hand gestures during an interview. Her work as both a fashion editor and curator illustrates her dramatic persona. It is this extravagant elegance that defines Vreeland as a model for all fashion lovers to aspire to appreciate.

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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