Cover image for Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland
Dwight, Eleanor.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 308 pages : illustrations (some color), portraits (some color) ; 27 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TT505.V74 D93 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
TT505.V74 D93 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Vreeland . . . spotted, attracted, and showcasedthe most talented designers, photographers, illustrators, models, and fashionicons and gave their genius a glamorous theater. This book is a beautifultribute to her." --Diane Von Furstenberg

"Eleanor Dwight's great achievement is. . . anuanced portrait of a twentieth-century woman, socially liberated andintellectually unfettered, a modern careerist who never shed her Edwardianproprieties, a woman in full." --Harold Koda, directorof the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Eleanor Dwightdelivers the definitive biography of Diana Vreeland, the twentieth century'smost influential fashion editor. Lavishly illustrated with exclusivephotographs and personal materials from the legendary style maker's privatecollection, and featuring a new preface from Vogue's Andr#65533; LeonTalley, Diana Vreeland is an indispensible look at a grand dame of greatcouture.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From the sublime to the oh-so-trendy--an odd juxtaposition from the writer who brought us Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life (1994) and now chronicles the life and works of Diana Vreeland, whose claim to fame was fashion, fashion, and more fashion. Born to a life of affluence, Diana always perceived herself as the ugly duckling, an image haunting her her whole life. Dwight lays all emotions and life events bare, thanks to her access to memoirs and letters saved by the Vreeland family. Truly experiencing the lives of the rich and famous, readers will cheer her first job as a "why don't you?" columnist for Harper's Bazaar, grimace when unceremonious retirement faces her at Vogue, and applaud at the flamboyance that spelled Vreeland. Photographs and amazing stories, whether on a shoot with Veruschka or dressing Jackie Kennedy, will thrill and delight even the most ambivalent of fashionistas. Barbara Jacobs

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I was always fascinated by the absurdities and the luxuries and the snobbism that the world of the fashion magazines showed.... But I lived in that world... because I was always of that world at least in my imagination," legendary editor Vreeland (1906-1989) once said, and for this sweeping, visual biography, Dwight spoke with Vreeland's family, friends and colleagues to offer a glimpse into the world of la mode. After breezing through Vreeland's New York childhood, Dwight (Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life) plunges into her ambitious adult life. She married businessman Reed Vreeland, and with their two young children, they moved to London, where they spent six years that would "transform [Vreeland] from a postdebutante into a soigne woman of the world." Vreeland started a lingerie business; made frequent visits to her "spiritual home," Paris; and befriended such designers as Patou, Schiaparelli and Chanel. Upon returning stateside in 1935, Vreeland wrote an inventive column for Harper's Bazaar, "Why Don't You?" and later became a top editor there. Not classically beautiful, yet always fashionable and immensely creative Vreeland photographed models in Frank Lloyd Wright homes instead of in staged studios, as had been the norm she lived an artistic, innovative life. She became Vogue's editor-in-chief in 1963, and her penchant for flamboyant, expensive stories that reflected aristocratic, international glamour led to her abrupt firing in 1971. She rebounded, however, serving as a consultant to the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute before her death. Laden with enthralling portraits of chic personalities from Greta Garbo and Jackie Kennedy to Lauren Hutton and Yves St. Laurent, this celebration of her life will please fashionistas young and old. Color & b&w photos. Agent, John Hawkins. (Nov. 1) Forecast: Vreeland's autobiography, D.V., is still in print after 18 years, and her illustrated book, Allure, was reissued by Bulfinch last month. Expect to see mentions of Dwight's book in fashion magazines; it's a good companion to another fashionable career woman's memoir, Mary Wells Lawrence's A Big Life in Advertising (Forecasts, Apr. 8). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It is sheer irony that an ungainly, unconventional girl should become one of the leading fashion mavens of the 20th century. Diana Vreeland (1906-89) was fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar, editor in chief at Vogue, and finally special consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. An unerring force in the fashion world from the Forties through the Seventies, Vreeland dictated style and fashion trends. She was eccentric and demanding, but in fashion she was always right. Dwight (Edith Wharton) here traces Vreeland's life and accomplishments. She handles the topic masterfully, with plenty of great period photos placed liberally throughout the text. Her exploration of Vreeland's youth, marriage, and family life give great insight into the development of her personality and motivations. While there are a few other biographies on Vreeland and her own autobiography (D.V.), Dwight's biography is comprehensive and memorable. Recommended for larger collections everywhere. Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



New York Childhood When a guest arrived at the Park Avenue apartment of Diana Vreeland, he was greeted in the alcove before the front door by a full-length painting of the glamorous but fey young Diana in a pink cotton gingham and white organdy dress under a green parasol. Once inside, he was surprised by the bright shades of red and objects suggesting a life rich in the present and exciting in the past. In the spring of 1962, a young reporter with the New York Times came to 550 Park Avenue to interview Diana about her new job as Vogue magazine's top editor. She found that the apartment was like its owner - "outrageous, individual and warm," shocking but appealing with its brilliant hues and fascinating objects. Carrie Donovan had observed Diana at work and she drew a vivid picture of her older colleague, who at that time was not much known outside the fashion business. As Donovan wrote, inside the industry Vreeland was considered "probably its most colorful personality," viewed with "a combination of awe and astonishment." Designers craved her appearance at their fashion shows: "When she jots down the number or name of a model during a showing, other editors are quick to do the same." Donovan also described how she looked - her way of walking and her unusual face "with flat planes, brown eyes, a generous mouth and strong, aquiline nose." And, Donovan added, "Mrs. Vreeland's colorful manner of speaking is part of the legend. Fixing the listener with a steady gaze, she rolls out declarative sentences in a booming voice that has an electrifying effect on the people around her. At least one word in every sentence is emphasized." As readers learned, Diana Vreeland was not only expert at creating beauty and excitement, but also at recognizing the exquisite when she saw it. She transformed herself, her apartment, her magazine pages and later her Costume Institute exhibitions. But how she did this remained mysterious. The casual observer would not know of the hard work and many carefully chosen ingredients that made up Diana Vreeland creations. As one approaches the story of her life, can one get beyond the carefully choreographed performance, the marvelous details, to learn the whole story - the facts that she would have preferred to leave shrouded in mystery? Where Diana was born and raised was always a mystery. Once she claimed to have been born in Vladivostok, as she told her grandson Nicky. He was studying filmmaking in the 1970s, and decided his grandmother, "Nonina," was the perfect subject for a profile. He went to the red living room and she emerged from her bedroom all set to perform. She faced the camera and began: "I was born in Vladivostok." Her story unfolded from there. When she had finished, Nicky realized the camera hadn't been working. With apologies he adjusted it and they started again. She began the same way: "I was born in Vladivostok," and she continued her tale to the end, word for word, exactly as before. Another time she said she was born in the Atlas Mountains - "in a nomad community, accompanied by Berber ululations." Her appearance gave little away about her true origins. A curious stranger encountering this strange-looking woman in the 1960s might have guessed that she was a White Russian émigré of noble birth, or the daughter of a Cherokee chieftain or Bengali rajah, or as those in New York's garment district suspected - a Sephardic Jew. The true story of her beginnings is to be found in an album carefully kept by her father. She was born in Paris, at 5 Avenue Bois de Boulogne (Avenue Foch since World War I) in the summer of 1903. Her American mother, Emily Key Hoffman, and her English father, Frederick Young Dalziel (pronounced the Scottish way: dee-YELL), had been married two years earlier, at St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, the fashionable Anglican church in London's Belgravia. The couple were living in Paris because Fred was working as the French representative for a South African gold mining company. She didn't stay long in Paris, for on April 2, 1904, the Dalziel family sailed for America on the SS Ryndam . Little Diana, beginning at the age of eight months, spent her childhood in New York City living at several addresses in the East Seventies until she was married twenty years later. The setting of her early life was determined by her mother's friends, family and social position. On their return from Europe, the Dalziels took their place in the world in which Emily had grown up, a society of the well-to-do and the well connected. Emily knew the Vanderbilts and the Astors, and the staid New York upper-crust society in which money and position mattered above all else. But her New York friends also had flair - they were bohemian and cosmopolitan, at ease in London, Paris and the south of France. As a result, her daughter Diana later saw herself as a member of the leisured class. "She always emphasized that that's where she came from and that's where she stayed," Frecky Vreeland recalled, "that was the link she never broke." Emily brought home a husband who was neither rich nor socially prominent, qualities valued in her world. Fred was sophisticated and charming, however. As Diana's sister described their father, he "wasn't distinguished in his family but was very good-looking, which is why [my mother] married him." His grandson remembered that "he had a wonderful sense of form, of class and elitism." Later Diana saw her father's forebears as a great source of pride - brave Scots, whose motto was "I dare." The Dalziels, however, had not lived in Scotland for generations. Frederick Dalziel, Diana's father, grew up in London and spent two years at Brasenose College, Oxford, leaving in 1893 without a degree. In New York he became a stockbroker. Though he lived in New York until his death in 1960 ... Excerpted from Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight Copyright © 2002 by Eleanor Dwight Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. x
1 New York Childhoodp. 1
2 Mrs. Reed Vreeland of Hanover Terracep. 23
3 "Why Don't You?"p. 43
4 The Warp. 57
5 Harper's Bazaarp. 79
6 Jackie and Dianap. 113
7 Getting Started at Voguep. 125
8 Swinging into the Sixtiesp. 143
9 The High Vogue Yearsp. 161
10 The Last Collections in Parisp. 175
11 The Entr'actep. 187
12 The Costume Institutep. 209
13 Expeditions to the Eastp. 229
14 Fun in the Seventiesp. 249
15 The Last Actp. 263
Epiloguep. 286
Notesp. 288
Bibliographyp. 296
Acknowledgmentsp. 299
Photograph and Illustration Creditsp. 300
Indexp. 302