Meet The Original Anna Wintour: Diana Vreeland

March 6, 2019

Before Anna Wintour and way before Miranda Priestly, there was Diana Vreeland- The Empress Of Fashion.

“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.” Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland took the reigns of Vogue in 1963. At that time, Vogue was more like a textbook on how to exist for men rather than a fashion magazine. When she was appointed as Editor, she threw out the formality and pasted in more compelling material than ‘how to diet if you have no character at all’.

Diana adored the rebellion of the ’60s and made sure her magazine covered every inch of it. It was the first time that the fashion magazine heavily featured artists, actors and musicians. She is believed to be the first to publish a photo of the young Mick Jagger, just because of her fascination with his pillowcase lips.

When it came to photographing people, Diana wanted to focus on their flaws. But rather than having a laugh at their expense, she made their flaws the most beautiful thing about them. For example, she celebrated Barbara Streisand’s ‘Nefertiti’ nose and the length of model Marisa Berenson’s neck.

Marisa Berenson, Vogue

Just like her personality, Diana injected an aura of surrealism into the photos. The shoots always contained dramatic scenes, taken in many exotic parts of the world. Her December issues contained more fantasy than the mind of Norman Bates. 

To make the magazine work, she had high expectations. Many of her assistants would cry throughout the day and Diana never held a staff meeting. Instead, she sent out memos directing people about ‘pig white’ and hair dipped in salad oil.

Although she made Vogue a stressful place to work, she had a great eye for fashion. Diana was well known for nurturing the style of friend Jackie Kennedy, as she did with many others in the world of the ’60s ‘youthquake’. She was always spotted at Hollywood parties, Andy Warhol’s factory, Studio 54 and anywhere ‘happening’. The more she was spotted with celebrities, the more she became one herself.

Venushka, Vogue

But by the end of the ’60s, in 1971, Diana was fired from her position at Vogue. Diana’s expenditure on the magazine was making the advertisers and investors’ pockets nervous. 

Although she fell from her fashion throne. Many of the big names have so much praise for what Diana did for Vogue and ’60s fashion. In the biographical documentary, The Eye Has To Travel many well-known faces speak fondly of their time with Diana. But they also reveal that she had an extraordinary talent for bullshitting.

Diana didn’t perceive her stories as lies, but more as a way of decorating the truth. ’60s model Venushka recalled that Vreeland used to say, “Don’t be boring. Don’t tell a story even if it’s true if it’s boring. Invent something. “

And, indeed, all that Diana Vreeland did leave behind wasn’t boring. She influenced many magazine editor characters in movies (including Funny Face) and had a play called Full Gallop, written about her. But for me, it’s her imagination, and her relentless energy to continue creating that inspires me. Plus, the pages of ’60s Vogue now serves as a time capsule thanks to Miss Vreeland. Merci Beaucoup. 

Jean Shrimpton, Vogue

All photos are not my own and are taken from the pages of ’60s Vogue, sourced from Pinterest.

    Leave a comment