Style NOT Fashion

Rainy Sunday afternoon. Perfect time to go to the Film Festival (alone) and see the documentary, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Must Travel. Vreeland was born in Paris, grew up near New York and got her first job in London where she was approached by the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. So was not and never will be considered, pretty (her mother’s musings on that topic resulted in much trauma). She had no formal education, no training in the world of fashion, art or photography but she was, by all accounts, the first person to see fashion and photography as art forms. After a successful run revolutionising the pages of Harper’s Bazaar as fashion editor she was made Editor-in-Chief at that Holy Grail of magazines, Vogue. And from 1962 until she was fired in 1971 (basically for spending too much money) she ruled the roost of American women’s magazines. She was autocratic, a perfectionist, hard-working and the inspiration behind many fictional editors in films and movies about working in fashion. She was the bitch long before Anna Wintour, she was the first ‘super-editor’.

So yeah for many reasons she was great. But the best bit of all?  She was a woman of style. You did not have to be beautiful or stick thin for her to use you as a model, she actually asked photographers to make a model’s flaws the central feature. She took designers that were starting out and risked with them, launching the careers of people who are household names (Oscar de la Renta, Dianne von Furstenberg, Manolo Blahnik). She said that you should have painted toenails in the middle of winter because you will walk more beautifully under your boots and stockings. She was not beautiful but the way she put together her outfits (on herself and the shoots she styled) was elegant and classy.

That’s what is missing these days. It is too much about following the crowd, blonde highlights, small noses and long eyelashes. It’s too much about advertising, the ‘in’ labels and the amount it all costs. When will the Vogues (and company) of today start going back to when it wasn’t about strict fashion it was about being pulled together, speaking well, being clean and having style.

And if noone’s going to put that on the newsstand, then maybe I will.

Diana Vreeland

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