Everybody loved the Duchess, the Empress of style. Even Diana Vreeland wanted more of Diana Vreeland! She must have marvelled at what a total icon and fashion darling she had become. No-one compared to Diana. She oozed such style, grace and flamboyance; everybody wanted a piece of her.
From Belle Epoque, Paris to Studio 54, propelling the pages of Harper’s Bazaar (1936-1962) and Vogue (1962-1971) into the future and smashing stereotypes. Diana revolutionized the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, (1971-1989) and counted Coco Chanel, Wallis Simpson, Andy Warhol and Jack Nicholson as a few of her very good friends.
She was the mother of great quotes and rarely drew breath in her hectic work and social life. She had an infectious, darling personality and truly believed you could make yourself as fabulous, as interesting, as gorgeous as you wanted to be.
“The only real elegance is in the mind, if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.’
But from all the reading and research I have done on the Empress, what resonates with me the most is her appreciation of imperfection and difference.
Diana did not enjoy a sympathetic relationship with her mother, in fact, her mother referred to her as her `ugly duckling, her ugly little monster!’ She would lament at how she had such an extremely beautiful sister but how Diana was so extremely ugly. This was obviously devastating to Diana as she struggled with her `awkward body and very large nose’ but rather than wallowing, in what she may have initially seen as negatives, it was her attitude to difference that saw her turn the fashion industry upside down.
She celebrated strong features and put them out there. She loved Barbara Streisand’s nose, Cher’s `pointy head’ and she demanded her photographers and creative teams promote difference and plaster it all over her magazines.
She celebrated flaws, she would push a models `fault’, make an asset of a particular feature and make it their trade mark. This is exactly what she did with Barbara Streisand.
Diana met a very young, naïve Lauren Hutton and saw in her a true new American beauty. A woman on the brink of stardom. She told Hutton she had quite a presence and organized for her to be shot by Richard Avedon. She celebrated Hutton’s famous `gap’ between her front teeth, in fact she wanted it accentuated!
Hutton went on to become the Kate Moss of her time but never forgot her life changing meeting with the Empress.
Vreeland had the magic. She saw something in people before they saw it in themselves. She wanted to celebrate women – Diana wanted women to be outlandish, extraordinary, to be individuals and to never, ever be boring!
`I’d love to have been Elizabeth the First. She was wonderful. She surrounded herself with poets and writers, lived at Hampton Court, and drove that little team of spotted ponies with long tails….She’s at the top of my list. I loved the clothes. It took her four hours to dress – we have a lot in common!’