Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland

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9780061691744: Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland

Diane von Furstenberg once called Diana Vreeland a "beacon of fashion for the twentieth century." Now, in this definitive biography by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, is the story of the iconic fashion editor as you've never seen her before. From her career at the helms of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, to her reign as consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vreeland had an enormous impact on the fashion world and left a legacy so enduring that must-have style guides still quote her often wild and always relevant fashion pronouncements.

With access to Vreeland's personal material and photographs, critically acclaimed biographer Amanda Mackenzie Stuart has written the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at Diana Vreeland and her world—a jet-setting social scene that included Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Lauren Bacall, Penelope Tree, Lauren Hutton, Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and the Kennedys. Filled with gorgeous color photographs of her work, Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland is an elegant and fascinating account of one of the most revered tastemakers of the 20th century.

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: In several ways, Empress of Fashion is much like the woman it covers. Like Diana Vreeland (1903–1989)--the imperious, transformative editor of Vogue magazine, then the creator of the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum--British journalist Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s biography lasts a long time. And while it isn’t always traditionally well formed, it is far deeper, smarter, and more important than it first appears. Who was Diana Vreeland? An arbiter of beauty who, by just about everyone’s admission, was not beautiful; a working woman before it was fashionable; a fiercely independent soul with an overriding, lifelong, bourgeois concern about money. And while Mackenzie Stuart might tread a tiny bit too heavily into the Freudian--Vreeland constantly tried to prove herself to her neglectful and often nasty mother, even years after the older woman's death--her deep research into everything from Vreeland’s childhood diaries to her social life (shimmying at Studio 54 in her 80s!) makes this bio, which has the approval of Vreeland’s estate, nothing short of--as Mrs. Vreeland herself might say--“divine.” --Sara Nelson

From the Back Cover:

Born into a family of privilege, Diana Dalziel Vreeland grew up amid the fashionable of New York's Upper East Side. With a famously alluring mother and a classically beautiful sister, young Diana often felt isolated and unloved. But she was saved from her unhappy childhood by her audacious imagination as well as the grit and determination that would shape her extraordinary life.

Talent-spotted by legendary editor Carmel Snow in 1936, Diana joined Harper's Bazaar as a fashion editor, where her singular point of view and signature style quickly made her a major creative force in American fashion. Under her influence, American designers became chic during World War II, and with her pizzazz she inspired a raft of fashion talent on both sides of the Atlantic.

Passed over as successor to Snow, Diana did the unthinkable and accepted the title of editor-in-chief of Bazaar's archrival, Vogue. In Diana's Vogue, women were not only offered shockingly short skirts and silver hipster pants: even more radically, they were encouraged to embrace the free spirit of the sixties, to resist fashion orders from on high, and to use their own imaginations in re-creating themselves. When Women's Wear Daily asked Diana, "What is the function of a fashion magazine?" she replied, "To instruct when possible, to delight, to give pleasure, to bring to the reader what interests her. Everybody makes an appearance every day."

In 1971 Diana was fired from Vogue. She reluctantly accepted a new position for herself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Special Consultant to the Costume Institute, only to reveal a new dimension to her brilliance. Her first show, on the work of designer Cristobal Balenciaga, drew more than 150,000 people to the museum, and the show that followed smashed all the record books. The Metropolitan was stunned, and today's blockbuster exhibition was born.

In this first full-length biography of Diana Vreeland, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart portrays a visionary: a fearless innovator who inspired designers, models, photographers, and artists.

Vreeland reinvented the way we think about style and where we go to find it. As an editor, curator, and wit, Diana Vreeland made a lasting mark and remains an icon for generations of fashion lovers.

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