“And then I’d sign “D.V.” “D.V.?” On, no I was never called that. Always, Mrs. Vreeland. Someone at the Museum, I think, calls me “D.V.” Rather nice. Deo volente – God willing – or Dominus vobiscum – God be with you. Pops sign that on their bulls, I believe, the way we write “best wishes” on our letters.” Diana Vreeland
Diana, oh, Diana, I am not even going to pretend not to be in love with this incredible woman. Diana Vreeland truly and deeply got under my skin, and the beating heart pushed those love molecules straight into my brain that experienced a kind of euphoria that only occurs when the chemistry is there.
Her influence on me is a bit like a sugar-stimulated dependency in some people – they don’t really realise how much they need it until the cravings play tricks with the appetite and make overindulge… Diana Vreeland, with her infectious ability to describe the world around her like no one else, has become my indulgence and an addiction I don’t want to be cured from.
Watching The eye has to travel and reading Allure were my first steps towards discovering the legacy she left behind and needless to say, I wanted more and continued looking until one day, whilst preparing for one of my “fashion weeks”, I saw the title mentioned among others in an out of print volume I was lucky to acquire.
D.V. was my ode to joy. An autobiography full of brilliant and fascinating stories told by Diana Vreeland herself in that wonderful language of hers, full of vignettes and magic. No photographs. Small format. Definitely not one of those heavy coffee-table editions.
It ticked every box for me. It moved me to tears. It made me smile. And love Diana even more.
If you are looking for a good read, this is definitely a must-have. Trust me, you will treasure this little gem forever.
The quotes below are just so you can get a feel of what she sounds like, in case you’ve never read anything by Diana Vreeland before… And if you did, well, then simply enjoy…
On her childhood and growing-up…
“But where do you begin? The first thing to do, my love, is to arrange to be born in Paris. After that, everything follows quite naturally.”
“Actually, my dreams in the Bois. I was brought up in the world of “great beauties”, the world where lookers had something to give the world, a world where the cocottes, the women of demimonde, were the great personalities of Paris. The were in their half-world and that half-world was very important. And the Bois was where they paraded early in the morning. That was the secret of the beauty of the demimondaines. They took the morning air.”
“Naturally, I’ve always been mad about clothes. You don’t get born in Paris to forget about the clothes for a minute.”
“Don’t think you were born too late. Everyone has that illusion. But you aren’t. The only problem is if you think too late.”
“The real seriousness of my youth was that I devoted myself totally to learning.”
“The flavour, the extravagance, the allure, the excitement, the passion, the smash, the crash… This man smashed the atom!”
On her London life…
“Of course, we had a topiary garden. Greenery, you know, is as much a part of England as a nose is a part of human face… The walls were painted a marvellous dull ochre I took from the face of Chinaman on a Coromandel street… Beyond the windows was Regent’s Park with all those wonderful flowers and trees and boxes. Ducks in the morning. Then, as we’d be going to bed… lions – roaring and having their meal. Oh, wonderful to hear a lion roar in the middle of a city!”
“The hats! They’re so beautiful. All measured and fitted. Beautiful felts – I mean, the felt was like satin. Lock’s, St James’s street. A paradise for men, just a paradise.”
“My life has been more influenced by books than any other one thing.”
“Everyone thinks of suits when they think of Chanel. That came later. If you could have seen my clothes from Chanel in the thirties – the degage gypsy skirts, the divine brocades, the boleros, the roses in the hair, the paillettes nose veils – day and evening! And the ribbons were so pretty.”
“A woman dressed by Chanel back in the twenties and the thirties – like a woman dressed by Balenciaga in the fifties and sixties – walked into a room and had a dignity, an authority, a thing beyond a question of taste.”
“Chanel No. 5, to me, is still the ideal scent for a woman. She can wear it anywhere, anytime, and everybody – husbands, beaus, taxi drivers – everybody loves it. No one has gone beyond Chanel No. 5”
“I was always fascinated by the absurdities and the luxuries and the snobbism of the world that the fashion magazines showed. Of course, it’s not for everyone. Very few people had ever breathed the pantry air of a house of a woman who wore the kind of dress Vogue used to show when I was young. But I lived in that world… because I was always of that world – at least in my imagination.”
“What these magazines gave was a point of view. Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them – and what’s more, they expect it from you.”
“Of course, one always dressed in those days. You dressed in you went to Harlem, you dressed if you went to a bottle club.”
“You never learned anything in the thirties. Still, I loved the clothes I had in the thirties.”
“All the great lingères were Russian, because they were the only people who really knew luxury when luxury was in fashion.”
“Vulgarity is a very important ingredient in life. I am a great believe in vulgarity. A little bad taste is like a splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste – it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. No taste is what I’m against.”
“Unshined shoes are the end of civilisation.”
P.S. And just in case you are wondering whether or not I am aware or of got the Memos – yes, I am and yes, I certainly did. But that’s another story.