Sunday, August 17, 2008


by Diana Vreeland
Edited by George Plimpton and Christopher Hemphill

The editor of Vogue who preceded Grace Mirabella, Diana Vreeland has to have been one of the first crazy-making, dictatorial editors; not unlike Ann Wintour herself. They definitely have a lot in common. Both upper class from the get-go, raised among Europe's elite. Both supremely self-confident in their vision for Vogue. Both devoted to fashion from an early age. If I was going to compare them, though, I think the first difference I see is that Vreeland was larger-than-life, flamboyant, and warm. Anna Wintour, by contrast, is often described as icy, aloof, even calculating.

When Mirabella was fired and Wintour named her replacement, many people noted the similarity to Mirabella's own ascent to the editorship of Vogue. Mirabella even admits that it was so awkward that she could never face Vreeland again afterwards. Yet, unlike Mirabella, who spends a fair amount of space in her own memoir rehashing the circumstances of her release from Vogue, Vreeland expresses little self-pity over her firing. It's significant, though, that Mirabella's name doesn't come up so much as once in this entire book, even though Mirabella makes much of their close working and personal relationship in hers. From reading D.V., you can gather that Vreeland was fired from Vogue in a graceless way, but that's about it.

So what I'm driving at is that, no matter what her private feelings were, Vreeland always puts a good face on things and maintains her air of fabulous pizzazz. This book is almost willfully scatter-brained, and definitely a little heavy on the name-dropping, but still presents an extremely interesting view of life in the twenties and thirties that is now long-gone. Her intense feeling for color is also a strong presence throughout -- is there anyone who hasn't heard her pronouncement "Pink is the navy blue of India?"

If you've seen the movie Funny Face, with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, then you probably know that the fashion editor in that movie was said to have been based on Vreeland. Reading her book, I couldn't get that character out of my mind, and it seemed to fit. Although this book is not really all that informative, it's definitely interesting, and I did enjoy reading it.



Blogger zelda said...

Excellent! Not sure I'll have time for this one so happy to get the review.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

It's another non-must-read, but head and shoulders above the Oppenheimer.

9:14 AM  

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