The legendary Diana VreelandÂ (1903â1989), also known asÂ âHigh Priestess of Fashion,âÂ greatly influenced fashion and style from 1936, when she became a fashion editor atÂ Harperâs Bazaar. Vreeland established herself as a controversial visionary with an astonishing ability to invent and discover fashion ideas, designers, personalities, and photographers. She was a memorable writer with a vivid personality and a talent for coining aphorisms.Â
“A fancy foot and a discerning eye for impeccable clothes was all it took for Carmel Snow, Editor-in-Chief of Harperâs Bazaar, to offer Diana Vreeland the job that would change fashion forever. Snow had a gift for recognizing talent and knew Mrs. Vreelandâs style savvy was just what Harperâs was missing, as neither she nor her esteemed Art Director, Alexey Brodovich, had a strong fashion background. The collaboration between this creative triumvirate would elevate Harperâs to the next level.
From the moment she stepped in as Fashion Editor in 1936, Mrs. Vreeland took to the part with her characteristic vigor and unconventionality. She was well known for her imaginative style, and Harperâs would provide the perfect platform to share her Ă©lan with the public.
Mrs. Vreelandâs reign at Harperâs coincided with the beginning of World War II and a pivotal shift in the fashion landscape â away from Paris and the rest of Europe to the uncharted frontier of American style. Mrs. Vreeland was in tune with the changing times, but never confined by them. Instead, she provided a luxurious, alternate universe through whimsy, color and beautiful clothes. A fine example of this was her celebrated advice column, âWhy Donât You?â in which she made wild suggestions that were equal parts decadent and amusing. âWhy donât youâŠhave a yellow satin bed entirely quilted in butterflies?â It was Mrs. Vreelandâs fearlessness, deep love affair with fashion, and affinity for fantasy coupled with her strict work ethic that allowed her to succeed where others would flounder.
During her 26 years at Harperâs, Mrs. Vreeland pioneered the role of Fashion Editor, imbuing the editorial pages with her unique sensibility and making her greatest contributions to the world of fashion. She collaborated with the leading photographers including Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Lillian Bassman, Toni Frissell and Baron George Hoyningen-Huene. Ultimately, the fashion pages became an embodiment of her taste, not only influencing her readership, but also providing a blueprint for designers and setting a precedent for style that would long outlast her reign at Harperâs.”
1940 cover by Herbert Matter
1956 Audrey Hepburn by Richard Avedon
One of Vreeland’s Harper’s Bazaar covers/March, 1959
1965 Richard Avedon Cover
Harperâs Bazaar, 1941
Photograph of Diana Vreeland by: Louise Dahl-Wolfe, August 1941
Photographs by: (Clockwise From Top Left) Herbert Matter, Erwin Blumenfeld, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Ernst Beadle, Louise Dahl-Wolfe
“What’s extraordinary is the way everything modern fits in with everything old. It’s all a matter of combining. There’s no beginning or end there â only continuity.” Photographs by: Louise Dahl-Wolfe 1953
âViolet is a color I really like. But then I like almost every color. I have an eye for color, perhaps the most exceptional gift I have.â Photographs by: Louise Dahl-Wolfe Â April 1958
Incase you’re wondering what Harper’s Bazaar looked like pre Dian Vreeland, below is the first cover of Harper’s Bazaar November 2nd,Â 1867
Also aÂ 1899 Spring Spring IssueÂ (pre Diana Vreeland)
Diana Vreeland’s new bookÂ The Eye Has To Travel is available now.Â The book chronicles 50 years of international fashion and Vreelandâs rich life. With more than 350 illustrations, including original magazine spreads and many famous photographs, this intensely visual book shows fashion as it was being invented, and how Vreeland shaped American taste through her superb vision.