At the opening of the biopic movie about her life, which draws from recordings made with the biographer for her memoir, ‘The Eye Has to Travel,’ she was asked, ‘How does one become Diana Vreeland?’ Her response is characteristic of her bold and witty personality. ‘The first thing to do, my love, is arrange to be born in Paris; after that, everything follows quite naturally’.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to be born during the Belle Epoch era of Paris, as Vreeland was, the next best thing might be to visit the city of light frequently. If that’s not possible, then delving into the wondrous world of Diana Vreeland as a way to live life will simply have to do.
Diana Vreeland was born in Paris, France, as Diana Dalziel on September 29, 1903. Her family moved to New York City in 1914, which marked the start of her lifelong love affair with American fashion and society.
Growing up in a privileged and affluent family exposed her to high society and the world of luxury and style. However, attributing Vreeland’s success solely to her privileged background would belie the unique brilliance and charisma of the woman that she was.
Vreeland had a deep and genuine passion for fashion. Her style was as distinctive and daring as her larger-than-life personality and attracted the attention of those in the fashion circles of the day. She was known for her bold clothing choices, love of exotic accessories, and, let’s be honest, her eccentricity.
Vreeland stumbled into a long career with Harpers Bazaar. Still, nothing about this extraordinary, fantastical woman resembles a tumble, more of an elegant dance inspired by providence and opportunity.
After gaining the attention of the then-editor of Bazaar, Carmel Snow, her career in fashion was birthed into the famously titled “Why Don’t You” column, where her witty and unconventional writing style garnered attention and perhaps a little notoriety as she encouraged readers to embrace unusual fashion and lifestyle choices.
Her unconventional approach to fashion writing set Vreeland apart from other fashion journalists of her time. In 1937, she became the fashion editor, allowing her to experiment with avant-garde fashion concepts. Her penchant for showcasing non-traditional beauty and promoting eclectic styles made her a trailblazer in the industry.
In 1962, Diana Vreeland became the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, a position she held for nearly a decade. During this time, she breathed new life into the magazine and brought a fresh and imaginative approach to fashion photography and editorial content.
Collaborating with fashion photography legends like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn produced iconic images of the 20th century, characterised by movement and drama.
Her visionary approach challenged and transformed the aesthetic. Her influence remains celebrated and continues to shape fashion today.
After leaving Vogue in 1971, Diana Vreeland took on the role of special consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This transition allowed her to continue her involvement in the fashion world and maintain a connection to the industry. Her ability to curate exhibitions and celebrate fashion history added to her enduring legacy.
Vreeland’s career trajectory is nothing short of inspirational; her transformation from being a wife, mother, socialite and fashion enthusiast living in New York City to working as a fashion columnist, editor, and ultimately editor-in-chief for the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world is testament to her natural creativity, charismatic personality, passion for fashion and style.
But, despite her remarkable success, could it be that Diana Vreeland, like many of us, experienced moments of insecurity or imposter syndrome? If she did, she’d certainly be the last to tell a soul, but, after all, who among us hasn’t grappled with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy at some point in our careers, even when you have the good fortune of “arranging to be born in Paris”?
Diana Vreeland’s career offers inspiration for modern women in the pursuit of a successful career. Embrace your passion confidently, seek mentorship, be creative and innovative, and don’t fear taking risks and adapting to change.
Ultimately, your unique character and talents can significantly impact whichever career you choose; sure, you’ll have doubts, but take a leaf out of Vreeland’s glossy playbook, be bold, never boring, and keep moving forward.
See you next time,