The “Color Icons” posts will be featuring individuals who have left their mark on the world due to their specific interest, passion, research, and writings on color. I am starting the series with Diana Vreeland, a woman of exceptional personal style and a deep love for the color red.
Image: Diana’s Dining Room
Diana Vreeland fascinated me from the moment I saw her rebellious “youthquake” mini skirted models featured in Vogue in the 60’s. She was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar from 1937 to 1962. In 1962 she left Harpers to become editor in chief of Vogue. She built a reputation for allowing photographers, stylists and models to do what they do best – be creative. In 1972 she was fired from Vogue for being a troublesome perfectionist.
Image: Vogue Covers
She is described as having an incredible aura of glamour, and a startling personal style. She oozed enthusiasm, vitality and pizzazz and could hold an audience captive with her provocative and fantastic stories.
Image: Diana at Black Tie Event
She consciously matched her personality with her environments, surrounding herself with dynamic and powerful red.
She worked out of a red lacquered office, smoked constantly, ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch and chased it down with a shot of scotch.
Diana’s friend Horst P. Horst photographed her in her living room designed by Billy Baldwin. Diana referred to the room as her “Garden In Hell.”
Diana is quoted as stating “ All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. I want Rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist Temple.”
She embraced red in all forms – red walls, sofas, pillows, and chairs. She surrounded herself with large vases of red flowers and would only pen her notes with red ink. She was frequently photographed dressed head to toe in the hue.
Diana went on to establish her own job title at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as the ‘special consultant’ to the Museum’s Costume Institute. She staged nine fantastic shows including Costumes and Designs of the Ballet Russes, The World of Balenciaga, and Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design.
When Vreeland became blind in the mid 1980’s she stated it was because she had looked at so many beautiful things. I can only imagine she still saw the world through a red lens.
Vreeland, a style icon of historic proportion fully realized the power of color. Diana died in1989.
By Eleanor Dwight
William Morrow an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
By Diana Vreeland
Alfred A. Knopf Publisher