or a few lessons on running a magazine (or a fashion blog) or a metaphorical ticket that would get you out of the comfort zone, Diana Vreeland is your woman. I am captivated by her. I love watching her, listening to her and, indeed, flicking through the issues of Harper's and Vogue created under her watchful forever travelling eye.
I love her. She's always fascinated me beyond belief. Not only because of her talent, vision and inner strength, but for the ability to pass them onto people regardless of their location, status, age or gender. Without being a celebrity or what we'd now call "a style influencer" Vreeland single handedly changed styles and attitudes of women who read her magazines as if they were the Bible.
Her view of things wasn't simply refreshing - it was a never-been-done-before, the one-of-a-kind. She was like a fortune-teller able to predict the future and cherry-pick the best of it. She could tell an editor, photographer or a reader that a beret was a no-go, but a certain shoe - "delicious and divine", that the hair looked like a salad and all wrong, but freckles - modern and chic, and they would not just listen, they'd believe her. Because she was Diana Vreeland.
I wish I had her brain... but since it is virtually impossible, I soak up whatever I can from her books, from Allure, D.V. and the Eye Has to Travel to the latest volumes, including Memos: The Vogue Years published in 2013 and most recent the Modern Woman.
The Memos, a collection of Vreeland's letters written to the editors, photographers, fashion designers and models (think Richard Avedon, Balenciaga, Veruschka) during her Vogue years edited by Alexander Vreeland, Diana's grandson, is a very special addition to any fashion library and a text book to study and learn from. She dictated them to her secretary every morning from her oil-scented bathroom and later corrected some by hand as if splashing a dose of vitality over type-writer engraved pieces of regularly-dull carbon paper.
It's difficult to put the book down once you start reading it. It is irresistible. The way Vreeland speaks and looks at the world, her fearless creativity mixed with total madness, are irresistible. The idea of holding something that was never really meant to be seen by the public is irresistible.
Even more so, you suddenly feel like breaking a rule or two - well, for me the words were a bit like a hammer smashing my slightly stale reality that gone all prim and proper.
This the the fashion's Holy Grail - so unless you were one of the lucky people at the receiving end of these Memos at the time, things simply do not get better than this beautiful, witty and very special book that will make you feel alive and inspired. Run and get a copy if you haven't done so already.
And just a few of my favourite quotes from the Memos... Because I couldn't help but feel how relevant and appropriate they were today.
"Long evening dresses... Which is really an old ladies fashion and is not nearly as amusing and gala as the short evening dress."
"Beware of curls... It is a great art to do them so that's the girls not only link modern but do not suddenly look very vulgar."
"We are not looking for endless variety - we are looking for fashion."
"With health, a good figure and brown skin in the summer, people should spend very little money on their clothes."
"Everything is in the fit... The armholes and the fabric away from the body to give a more ordered line."
"Gucci... An enormous new asset. He is perfect and the luxury and perfection is something much needed. His boots are the best in town. His bags are certainly the best in town."
"The Saint Laurent throat band is without a doubt the most important "line" on the body we have had this year. Please work this throat look. It should have a certain rounded effect, not flat like a velvet ribbon. Somehow it relaxes the whole décolletage and it is again possible to wear deep necks, like gypsy blouses etc."