Diana Vreeland was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and as a special consultant at the Costume Insatiate of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Born in Paris, raised in New York City and with ties to London, she also understood the cultural exchange between Europe and America better than most.
Her publishing career began in 1936 as columnist for Harpers Bazar. Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar , was impressed with Vreeland’s clothing style and asked her to work at the magazine. From 1936 until her resignation, Diana Vreeland ran a column for Harper’s Bazaar called “Why Don’t You?”. Diana then became Fashion Editor for the magazine and took fashion very seriously. She stormed the pages of Bazaar with her infectious energy and revolutionary point-of-view. Under her guidance, the fashion spreads took on a fantastical new quality, transporting readers to far-out scenes around the globe. Vreeland gave women permission to be grand. Before her, magazines like Harper’s Bazaar were practical guides focused on real life home-making. Now they were also a source of otherworldly inspiration.
In 1960 John F. Kennedy became president and Diana Vreeland advised the First Lady in matters of style. “Vreeland advised Jackie throughout the campaign and helped connect her with fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who became chief designer to the first lady”. Vreeland occasionally gave Mrs. Kennedy advice about clothing during her husband’s administration, and small advice about what to wear on Inauguration Day in 1961.
According to some sources, hurt that she was passed over for promotion at Harper’s Bazaar in 1957, she joined Vogue in 1962. She was editor-in-chief from 1963 until 1971. Vreeland enjoyed the sixties enormously because she felt that uniqueness was being celebrated. “If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body and good carriage.” In 1984 Vreeland explained how she saw fashion magazines. “What these magazines gave was a point of view. Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them—and what’s more, they expect it from you. I published this big fashion slogan: This is the year of do it yourself. Every store in the country telephoned to say, ‘Look, you have to tell people. No one wants to do it themselves-they want direction and to follow a leader!'”
After she was fired from Vogue, she became consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1971. By 1984, according to Vreeland’s account, she had organised twelve exhibitions. Artist Greer Lankton created a life-size portrait doll of Vreeland that is on display in the Costume Institute’s library.