Diana Vreeland (September 29, 1903 – August 22, 1989) was a noted
columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the
Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, being the editor-in-chief
of the latter, and as a special consultant at the
Costume Institute of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was named to the International
Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1964.
1 Early life
Harper's Bazaar 1936–1962
2.2 Vogue 1963–1971 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
3 Later years
Diana Vreeland Estate
5 Film portrayals
6 References in film, television, theatre and literature
7 See also
9 External links
She was born as Diana Dalziel in Paris, France, at 5, avenue du
Avenue Foch since World War I). Vreeland was the
eldest daughter of American socialite mother Emily Key Hoffman
(1876–1928) and British stockbroker father Frederick Young
Dalziel (1868–1960). Hoffman was a descendant of George Washington's
brother as well as a cousin of Francis Scott Key. She also was a
distant cousin of writer and socialite
Pauline de Rothschild (née
Potter; 1908–1976). Vreeland had one sister, Alexandra
(1907–1999), who later married Sir Alexander Davenport Kinloch, 12th
Baronet (1902–1982). Their daughter Emily Lucy Kinloch married
Lt.-Col. Hon. Hugh Waldorf Astor (1920–1999), the second son of John
Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever and Violet Astor, Baroness Astor
Vreeland's family emigrated to the United States at the outbreak of
World War I, and moved to 15 East 77th Street in New York, where they
became prominent figures in society. Vreeland was sent to dancing
school and was a pupil of Michel Fokine, the only Imperial Ballet
master ever to leave Russia, and later of Louis Harvy Chalif. Vreeland
performed in Anna Pavlova's
Gavotte at Carnegie Hall. In January 1922,
Vreeland was featured in her future employer, Vogue, in a roundup of
socialites and their cars. The story read, "“Such motors as these
accelerate the social whirl. Miss Diana Dalziel, one of the most
attractive debutantes of the winter, is shown entering her
On March 1, 1924, Diana Dalziel married Thomas Reed Vreeland
(1899–1966), a banker and international financier, at St. Thomas'
Church in New York, with whom she would have two sons: Tim (Thomas
Reed Vreeland, Jr.) born 1925, who became an architect as well as a
professor of architecture at the
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico and then
UCLA, and Frecky (Frederick Dalziel Vreeland) born 1927 (later U.S.
ambassador to Morocco). A week before her wedding, The New York
Times reported that her mother had been named co‑respondent in the
divorce proceedings of Sir Charles Ross and his second wife, Patricia.
The ensuing society scandal estranged Vreeland and her mother, who
died in September 1928 in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
After their honeymoon, the Vreelands moved to Brewster, New York, and
raised their two sons, staying there until 1929. They then moved to 17
Hanover Terrace, Regent's Park, London, previously the home of Wilkie
Collins and Edmund Gosse. During her time in London, she danced with
Tiller Girls and met Cecil Beaton, who became a lifelong friend.
Syrie Maugham and Elsie de Wolfe, other society women who ran
their own boutiques, Diana operated a lingerie business near Berkeley
Square. Her clients included Wallis Simpson and Mona Williams. She
often visited Paris, where she would buy her clothes, mostly from
Chanel, whom she had met in 1926. She was one of fifteen American
women presented to King George V and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace
on May 18, 1933. In 1935 her husband's job brought them back to New
York, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.
"Before I went to work for Harper’s Bazaar in 1936, I had been
leading a wonderful life in Europe. That meant traveling, seeing
beautiful places, having marvelous summers, studying and reading a
great deal of the time."
In 2012, a tribute to her life in the form of a documentary was
released, The Eye has to Travel, which debuted in September 2012
Angelika Theater in New York City.
Harper's Bazaar 1936–1962
Her publishing career began in 1936 as columnist for Harper's Bazaar.
Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper's Bazaar, was impressed with
Vreeland's clothing style and asked her to work at the magazine.
From 1936 until her resignation,
Diana Vreeland ran a column for
Harper's Bazaar called "Why Don't You?". One example is a suggestion
she made in the column, "Why don't you...Turn your child into an
Infanta for a fancy-dress party?" According to Vreeland, "The one
that seemed to cause the most attention was [...] "[Why Don't You]
[w]ash your blond child's hair in dead champagne, as they do in
France." Vreeland says that
S. J. Perelman wrote a parody of it for
The New Yorker
The New Yorker magazine that outraged her then-editor Carmel Snow.
Diana Vreeland "discovered" actress
Lauren Bacall during World War II.
Harper's Bazaar cover for March 1943 shows Lauren Bacall
posing near a
Red Cross office, based on Vreeland's decision: "[T]here
is an extraordinary photograph in which Bacall is leaning against the
outside door of a
Red Cross blood donor room. She wears a chic suit,
gloves, a cloche hat with long waves of hair falling from it".
Vreeland was noted for taking fashion seriously. She commented in 1946
that "[T]he bikini is the most important thing since the atom
bomb". Vreeland disliked the common approach to dressing that she
saw in the United States in the 1940s. She detested "strappy high-heel
shoes" and the "crêpe de chine dresses" that women wore even in the
heat of the summer in the country.
Until her resignation at Harper's Bazaar, she worked closely with
Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Richard Avedon, Nancy White, and Alexey
Diana Vreeland became Fashion Editor for the magazine.
Richard Avedon said when he first met
Diana Vreeland and worked for
Harper's Bazaar, "Vreeland returned to her desk, looked up at me for
the first time and said, 'Aberdeen, Aberdeen, doesn't it make you want
to cry?' Well, it did. I went back to
Carmel Snow and said, 'I can't
work with that woman. She calls me Aberdeen.' And
Carmel Snow said,
'You're going to work with her.' And I did, to my enormous benefit,
for almost 40 years." Avedon said at the time of her death that
"she was and remains the only genius fashion editor".
In 1955 the Vreelands moved to a new apartment which was decorated
exclusively in red.
Diana Vreeland had Billy Baldwin (1903–1983)
decorate her apartment. She said, "I want this place to look like
a garden, but a garden in hell". Regular attendees at the parties
the Vreelands threw were socialite C. Z. Guest, composer Cole Porter,
and British photographer Cecil Beaton Paramount's 1957 movie
Funny Face featured a character—Maggie Prescott as portrayed
by Kay Thompson—based on Vreeland.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy became president and
Diana Vreeland advised
the First Lady
Jacqueline Kennedy in matters of style. "Vreeland
advised Jackie throughout the campaign and helped connect her with
fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who became chief designer to the first
lady". "I can remember Jackie Kennedy, right after she moved into
the White House...It wasn't even like a country club, if you see what
I mean-plain." Vreeland occasionally gave Mrs. Kennedy advice about
clothing during her husband's administration, and small advice about
what to wear on Inauguration Day in 1961.
In spite of being extremely successful,
Diana Vreeland made a small
amount of money from the Hearst Corporation, which owned Harper's
Bazaar. Vreeland said that she was paid $18,000 a year from 1936 with
a $1,000 raise, finally, in 1959. She speculated that newspaper
magnate William Randolph Hearst's castle in San Simeon, California,
"must have been where the Hearst money went".
Vogue 1963–1971 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
According to some sources, hurt that she was passed over for promotion
Harper's Bazaar in 1957, she joined Vogue in 1962. She was
editor-in-chief from 1963 until 1971. Vreeland enjoyed the sixties
enormously because she felt that uniqueness was being celebrated. "If
you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had
a marvelous body and good carriage."
Vreeland sent memos to her staff urging them to be creative. One said,
"Today let's think pig white! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have
stockings that were pig white! The color of baby pigs, not quite white
and not quite pink!" During her tenure at the magazine, she
discovered the sixties "youthquake" star Edie Sedgwick. In 1984
Vreeland explained how she saw fashion magazines. "What these
magazines gave was a point of view. Most people haven't got a point of
view; they need to have it given to them—and what's more, they
expect it from you. [...][I]t must have been 1966 or '67. I published
this big fashion slogan: This is the year of do it yourself.
[...][E]very store in the country telephoned to say, 'Look, you have
to tell people. No one wants to do it themselves-they want direction
and to follow a leader!'"
After she was fired from Vogue, she became consultant to the Costume
Institute of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1971. By
1984, according to Vreeland's account, she had organized twelve
Greer Lankton created a life-size portrait
doll of Vreeland that is on display in the Costume Institute's
In 1984 Vreeland wrote her autobiography, D.V.
In 1989 she died of a heart attack at age 85 at Lenox Hill Hospital,
Upper East Side
Upper East Side in New York City.
Diana Vreeland Estate
Diana Vreeland Estate is administered by Alexander Vreeland, Diana
Vreeland's grandson and Frederick's son. This responsibility was given
to him by Diana's sons, Fredrick and Tim. The official Diana Vreeland
website was launched in September 2011. Created and overseen by her
estate, DianaVreeland.com is dedicated to her work and career,
presenting her accomplishments and influence, and revealing how and
why she achieved her notoriety and distinction.
Vreeland was portrayed in the film Infamous (2006) by Juliet
Stevenson. She was also portrayed in the film Factory Girl (2006) by
Illeana Douglas. Her life was documented in Diana Vreeland: The Eye
Has to Travel (2012).
References in film, television, theatre and literature
In the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,
Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) gives a copy of Vreeland's autobiography
to a thrift-store clerk and tells him to "commit sections to memory".
Later, the clerk quotes a passage that reads "That season we were
loaded with pizazz. Earrings of fuchsia and peach. Mind you, peach.
And hats. Hats, hats, hats, for career girls. How I adored Paris."
In 1982, she met over dinner with author Bruce Chatwin, who wrote a
touching memoir of their dinner conversation in a half-page
slice-of-life, entitled "At Dinner with Diana Vreeland".
In 1980, she was lauded in an article about social climbing in The New
In the 1966 film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, Miss Maxwell (Grayson
Hall) portrays an extravagant American expatriate fashion magazine
editor. The film's director, William Klein, worked briefly for
Vreeland and has confirmed the outrageous character in Polly Maggoo
was based on Vreeland.
Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine editor in
Funny Face is loosely
based on Diana Vreeland.
In the 1941 musical
Lady in the Dark
Lady in the Dark by Moss Hart,
Kurt Weill and Ira
Gershwin the character of Alison Du Bois was based on Vreeland.
In October, 1996,
Mary Louise Wilson portrayed Vreeland in a one-woman
play called Full Gallop, which she had written together with Mark
Hampton. The play takes place the day after Vreeland's return to
New York City from her 4-month escape to Paris after being fired from
Vogue. It was produced at the
Westside Theatre in New York City, and
directed by Nicholas Martin.
In the 2011 book "Damned" by Chuck Palahniuk, the main character
(Madison Spencer) receives a pair of high heels from the character
Babette. "In one hand, Babette holds a strappy pair of high heels. She
says, "I got these from Diana Vreeland. I hope they fit...".
In 2016, drag queen Robbie Turner portrayed Vreeland in the annual
Snatch Game on the 8th season of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Monk with a Camera, a film about Nicholas Vreeland, who is Diana
^ Diana Vreeland. 2002. p. 246. ISBN 0-688-16738-1.
^ She was coy about her age, and genuinely perplexed: Diana's
confusion was the result of a misreading. The genealogist Philippe
Chapelin of genfrance.com has clarified that there was no discrepancy
and that Diana was born on September 29, 1903. The misunderstanding
came from the abbreviation "7bre" in her bulletin de naissance, which
Diana took mean "July" but is actually shorthand for "September", "7
does not mean July but seven, that is French 'Sept.'" (similar
abbreviations are used for all the other months of autumn), according
to Amanda Mackenzie Stuart,
Diana Vreeland – Empress of Fashion,
London: Thames & Hudson, 2013, p. 338.
^ "World's Best Dressed Women". The International Hall of Fame: Women.
1964. Archived from the original on July 12, 2013. Retrieved April 29,
^ Ultimate Style – The Best of the Best Dressed List. 2004.
p. 90. ISBN 2 84323 513 8.
^ a b
Diana Vreeland papers 1899-2000 (bulk 1930-1989), The New York
Public Library – Archives & Manuscripts. Retrieved December 2,
^ Bowles, Hamish. "
Diana Vreeland – Voguepedia." Vogue Fashion,
Features, and More on Vogue.com. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
^ "Council of American Ambassadors Membership Frederick Vreeland"
Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved September 13,
Diana Vreeland – Empress of Fashion. 2013. p. 82.
^ Gilbert, Lynn (2012-12-10). Particular Passions: Diana Vreeland.
Women of Wisdom Series (1st ed.). New York City: Lynn Gilbert Inc.
ISBN 978-1-61979-985-1. [permanent dead link]
^ "Watch Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel () online - Amazon
Video". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
^ Vreeland, Diana (1985) . D. V. New York: Vintage.
pp. 116–117. ISBN 0-394-73161-1.
^ "The Divine Mrs. V". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
^ D.V., p. 122.
^ Harper’s Bazaar March 1943", photography Louise Dahl-Wolfe.
^ "Lauren Bacall: The Souring of a Hollywood Legend". Retrieved
September 24, 2009.
Diana Vreeland 1906–1989" Archived 2013-08-31 at the Wayback
Machine.. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
^ D.V., p. 144.
^ "National Museum of Women In The Arts Louise Dahl-Wolfe". Retrieved
September 13, 2009.
^ "Nancy White, 85, Dies; Edited
Harper's Bazaar in the 60s".
Retrieved September 11, 2009.
^ a b c d "The Divine Mrs. V".
^ "Diana Vreeland, Editor, Dies; Voice of Fashion for Decades", The
New York Times, August 23, 1989.
Diana Vreeland 1903–1989".
^ "The All Seeing Diana Vreeland". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
^ "Portrait of the Kennedys", Smithsonian Magazine[permanent dead
link], October 26, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
^ D.V., pp. 223–24.
^ D.V., p. 189.
^ Mahon, Gigi (1989-09-10). "S.I. Newhouse and Conde Nast; Taking Off
The White Gloves".
^ D.V., p. 198.
^ D.V., p. 229.
^ Vreeland, Diana (2011-04-19). D.V. (Reprint ed.). New York, NY:
Ecco. ISBN 9780062024404.
^ "Dinner with Diana Vreeland," in: Bruce Chatwin, What Am I Doing
Here (New York: Viking, 1989).
^ Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow (2006).
^ Bruce D. McClung:
Lady in the Dark
Lady in the Dark – Biography of a Musical
(2007), p. 10.
^ "Dramatists Play Service, Inc". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
Diana Vreeland Estate
Diana Vreeland Estate Facebook
Diana Vreeland at the Fashion Model Directory
Diana Vreeland on IMDb
Voguepedia Diana Vreeland
The Lady in Red
Diana Vreeland papers, 1899–2000 (bulk 1930–1989), held by the
Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2012 film website)
Editor of American Vogue
ISNI: 0000 0001 1598 2375
BNF: cb11928702t (data)