EMPRESS OF FASHION by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart


A Life of Diana Vreeland
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Intelligent account of the life and accomplishments of legendary Vogue editor-in chief, Diana Vreeland (1903–1989).

Vreeland was one of the 20th century’s greatest arbiters of style and fashion. Stuart (Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age, 2007) examines the people and events that made Vreeland into the fabulously compelling figure she became. The child of wealthy parents, Vreeland grew up with one foot in Belle Epoque Paris and the other in New York high society. Yet her childhood and early adolescence were far from idyllic. From a young age, she "internalized a sense of herself as ugly”; a difficult relationship with a beautiful but cruel and narcissistic mother only compounded her woes. Vreeland found solace by developing a keen aesthetic sense in tandem with a unique vision for who she wanted to be. By the time she was 16, she had successfully transformed herself into what she called "the Girl": a popular, trendsetting young woman who lived for beauty and art. At 22 and contrary to all expectation, she married "an astonishingly handsome husband" and moved to London where, within a few short years, she became what Vogue would call "one of the 'European highlights of chic.’ ” She eventually caught the eye of magazine editor Carmel Snow, who hired Vreeland to work alongside her at Harper's Bazaar. In the 25 years she was associated with the magazine, Vreeland helped transform it into the most dynamically innovative purveyor of fashion in the United States. But as Stuart shows, it was only later, as editor-in-chief of Vogue and then as a consultant for the Costume Institute at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, that Vreeland was fully able to assert her guiding vision: that fantasy and imagination were the only means by which an individual could find "release from the banality of the world.”

A richly detailed and well-researched biography of a fashion icon.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-169174-4
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2012


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