Monday, September 17, 2007

Give Them What They Didn't Know They Wanted!

When I was looking for Jeremiah Goodman illustrations yesterday, I came across one he did of Diana Vreeland's living room. I had been meaning to write a little post about the grand dame of fashion for a while and now seemed like the perfect opportunity. I also think it's another example of the world of fashion, art and design converging again.

Diana Vreeland was certainly a character. A larger than life woman who loved fashion and frivolity but who also needed to work to help support her family and their lavish lifestyle. She was friends with the who's who of the time including C.Z. Guest, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cecil Beaton, Cole Porter, and even Andy Warhol. She worked for Harper's Bazaar for 26 years, and later was editor in chief of Vogue. After she was unceremoniously fired, she went on to work with the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and turned it's benefit into the fashionable fete that it is today. Ali McGraw was at one point her wide eyed 21 year old assistant! Can you imagine working for Diana Vreeland? Amazing!

She was known almost as well for her blood-red living room at her apartment at 550 Park Avenue as she was for her fashion sense. "I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell" she said and it looks like she accomplished that in the above photo by Horst and illustration by Jeremiah Goodman. She spent all her life pursuing the perfect shade of red, the great clarifier she called it, bright and revealing.

I could go on and on because her life story is fabulous and a bit tragic at times. She was a woman who when the going got tough, she got going and with gusto! I love reading inspiring biographies of interesting woman and I loved reading about Diana Vreeland. I suggest picking up Eleanor Dwight's wonderful book, Diana Vreeland, and reading that one first. I made the mistake of reading D.V. first and later learned that Mrs. Vreeland liked to exaggerate just a wee bit, kind of like my grandmother. Got to love her. I also own the Sotheby's catalog from the auction of her estate that is a wonderful record of her lovely home and life. Included in the catalog, are the two Oberto Gili photos above and below.

Not only did Diana Vreeland give us more than we knew we wanted, she gave us more than we could have ever dreamed up ourselves. She truly was one remarkably chic and elegant woman!


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