Friday, January 20, 2012

In With the New and Diana Vreeland

Muchas gracias to mi amiga, artist, illustrator and graphic designer Hilary Mosberg. She designed this elegant new blog header and Bien Vestido identity. It's got color, grace, style and openness. No more generic header for BV! We are steppin' up and out. And readers, I also send a big thank you for your support and comments in person and online. BV is ten months old!

Now for a little style inspiration...

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
My fashionphile friend Karen loaned me this substantial book to explore over the holidays. I've been reading and rereading and every time I open it, I see a new evocative photo or read a great new quote. I may have to get my own copy. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel is a book written by and a documentary directed and produced by her granddaughter-in-law. The book is available now and the documentary made a well-received debut at film festivals around the world last year and is due for distribution in mid-May. 

DV, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1977; looking original,
elegant and on the verge of delivering one of her bon mots. 

"The first thing to do is arrange to be born in Paris. After that, everything follows quite naturally." So said Diana Vreeland. Raised in a worldy and sophisticated family, Diana was witness to major cultural events of the time; attending the coronation of George V, riding horses with Buffalo Bill and seeing Charles Lindbergh fly. Her mother compared Diana with her "beautiful sister" saying too bad that "you're so extremely ugly." This seemed to fuel Vreeland's fire and determination to create her larger-than-life personality. 

Vreeland invented the job of  fashion editor for Harper's Bazaar from 1936 to 1962 and then Vogue from 1962- 1971. She created the fashion magazine that we know today, inspiring  fashion and not just reporting on it. At Bazaar she wrote her "Why Don't You?" column offering outrageous and imaginative style advice ("Why Don't You wash your blond child's hair in dead champagne, as they do in France?"). She discovered the talents of Richard Avedon, Lauren Bacall, Veruschka, Twiggy and many others. After shaping and influencing fashion for thirty-five years she took her talents and personality to revive the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute as a special consultant from 1972 until her death in 1989.

So cool still today. Graphic and dramatic covers from the 40's. 

Vreeland is quoted: "I met Chanel in 1926, which was really the moment
that the world's clothes totally changed: the clean shirt, the little jackets and skirts."

Diana focused on the cultural personalities as well as fashion. 

From the 40's. I would love that hooded coat right now!
Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene, Bazaar, 1945

Diana Vreeland immortalized herself with her dramatic quotes:

"But you gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It's a way of life. Without it you're nobody. I'm not talking about lots of clothes."

"Someone once said, 'Genius is the capacity for taking infinite pains.' Therefore, when dressing, be absorbed completely and utterly in yourself, letting no detail escape you. However, once dressed, be interested only in those about you."

"Passion for passion, you can learn anything, you can do anything, you can go anywhere. Don't you think passion is very rare? And I think that it is getting rarer because there is so little around us."

Audrey fabulous in Givenchy
Photo by Bert Stern, Vogue, 1963

Embracing all that was happening in the 60's, Diana does a spread on  
futuristic Courreges, Vogue, 1965

Georgia O'Keefe
Photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, 1970

Gorgeous Fortuny gowns, worn by Gloria Vanderbilt and from her collection.
Photo by Richard Avedon, Vogue, 1969

Vreeland wrote her autobiography, DV and Allure, with her thoughts on the allure of style. I have both on order. Allure was originally published in the 80's and reissued in 2010. I would love to find an affordable early edition.

Why Don't We meditate on this DV quote?:
"The energy of imagination, deliberation, and invention, which fall into a natural rhythm totally one's own, maintained by innate discipline and a keen sense of pleasure. These are the ingredients of style"


  1. Great post Lesa! Happy Anniversary! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

    The images were amazing weren't they? My favorite Vreeland quote from the book was "Style was a standard. Didn't hurt anyone...but you gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It's a way of life. Without it you're nobody. I'm not talking about lots of clothes." You excerpted it above.

    Isn't that true -- conjuring up how you're going to put yourself together in the morning, delving in to the closet looking for a way to express your creativity is one of the main (and sometimes only) reasons for going to work!

  2. Elegant and classy new look and focus. You've gotten it right, Babe!