Diana Vreeland Memos

Diana Vreeland was editor in chief at Vogue for 9 years from 1962 to 1971. Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years is the legendary editor in her own words, providing a fascinating insight into her sense of style, fun, creativity and pizazz. The book is arranged under nine chapter headings, organising the memos in a thematic fashion – which is handy if you’re looking for style tips relating to behaviour or accessories, or advice on how to live an interesting life.

DV was cultivated and intellectually elegant with an obvious appreciation for the diversity of the world around her. She stressed the importance of supporting traditional skills and crafts, and was sensitive to the beauty of arts and craft traditions of all cultures. In Memos you get a real sense of a globally sophisticated person who had an amazing social network - and I don’t mean by today’s standards of digital availability - as well as a glimpse of her friendships with people like Veruschka, Cecil Beaton, Cristobal Balenciaga and Richard Avedon.

At the same time, the sixties was a radical time for fashion and the accompanying photographs are occasionally ‘crazy far-out man’. (The fashion shots are mostly from Avedon, Parkinson, Beaton or Snowdon, and are frequently drawn from private archives.) I can promise you haven’t seen a beehive like Jane Holzer’s - ever! In these pages you’ll find helmet hats that cover the eyes, yellow lipstick, and plenty of other visual cues that reveal DV’s interest in the future and space travel. Also featured are the up-and-coming, and now arrived: Shirley MacLaine, Candice Bergen, Peter Sellers and Brit Eklund, Coco Chanel, and more.

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Grandson Alexander writes that DV did all her correspondence at home, in a corner of her bathroom (it must have been large) near a window. She sat on a wicker armchair smoking Lucky Strikes dictating to the secretaries at Vogue on a specially wall-mounted telephone. The memos were then typed out using delicate onion skin paper and sheets of carbon to make multiple copies.

If this amazing image is not enough to tempt you to read this book, then here are just a sample of some what advice you’ll find in Memos:

Beware of curls - can look old fashioned and also vulgar.

I request again the importance of knee-socks…

…some fake leather … it is absolutely superb … comes in every known color. It will change the course of history.

The greatest vulgarity is any imitation of youth and beauty - this is vital…

I am strong for the shawl, the poncho, the toga what-have-you.

Barbarella is an amazing example of the girls we believe in and wish to project.

We need embroidery, embroidery, embroidery…

There is nothing worse than a hand with tapering fingers … Also, nails that come out beyond the the tip of the finger itself are so very démodé.

Nothing gives the luxury of pearls. Please keep them in mind.

Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years is available now online and in our shops.