Diana. DEE-Anna. What a fabulous woman. Dead or alive, she is the one person I would most like to have dinner with. It would be a dinner party though, in true Diana fashion. Coco Chanel and Andy Warhol and Josephine Baker and Cole Porter and Twiggy and Liza Minelli and Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy would be there, and there would be endless champagne. Remember the movie Midnight In Paris? It would be like that except better and without the dysfunctional Rachel McAdams x Owen Wilson storyline.
Diana though, she was a storyteller. TRUTH be damned! I’ve come to love this about her writing. You can’t quite be sure what is fact and what is fiction and she herself isn’t even sure! Who needs the truth when the story is so fantastical. Her words weave wonder and glamour and excitement into sentences with such crescendo. She makes the smallest details like the cuff on a man's shirt seem like the most vital detail.
What I found most surprising though is that Diana ardently proclaims herself not to be a feminist! Really?? I think. I have to disagree. So. She does adhere to traditional gender roles in that her husband should provide and that women should be quite feminine. But for her time and even still for a 2017 woman, she wields a lot of power. And she does so like she was born for it. Like having avant garde opinions and expressing them in print is the most natural thing in the world! Perhaps she is too blase on this point. It is unusual for someone in her economic status and of the era, to have worked outside the home for goodness sake! And in a prominent role no less. Conde Nast himself hand-picked her to run Harper's Bazaar. Not bad. And when her time was up she went to Vogue, and then to The Met to curate their Costume Institute. A resume every blossoming fashonista dreams of. She is in fact the reason Vogue exists today - she was Anna Wintour before Anna Wintour! She had taste, she had a point of view, and she shaped history. I’d call her a Feminist with a capital F.
I’d implore you to watch the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Must Travel on Netflix. It is in fact the manuscript this book was built upon. If I told you much more, I’d spoil it, but here’s a teaser…. Diana was globally-minded before information exchange was so ubiquitous. In practice this meant that she pulled fabric and cuts and details from Japan, from Morocco, from Spain, from Russia, from France right into Manhattan and onto the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Besides being the first woman - first person! - to care about and admire and infuse global trends into American fashion, it also wasn’t cheap. She was so steadfast in this commitment to globalism that her budget must have been enormous! To shoot and reshoot and reshoot all over the world at a time when travel by boat or train was the norm. She played with color and scale and everything had drama. To have have apprenticed under her…. *dreamy sigh*