Current research has landed me a new obsession with fashion doyenne, Diana Vreeland. Have you ever heard of her? She was a funny looking creature and after reading her autobiography, I am totally charmed by her. Not only was she the last anti-feminist who sounds completely right about the way things ought to be, she was terrifically chic, and her life, a bricolage of every upper crust of every country during the 20th century. She was Eurotrash. Everything she knew she learned in a book or from the Royal Family. She was friends with everyone EVERYONE – Andy Warhol, Cole Porter, Greta Garbo, Kings, Dukes, Queens, Coco Chanel. We’re talking she used to party with cheetahs and elephants, stuff you only read about in fairytales now, or history textbooks.
The kind of woman that Diana Vreeland embodied is long gone. She was unique, idiosyncratic, and completely disciplined despite anything she ever said. In the way she spoke in her autobiography – the way she talked about Balenciaga’s colours, the way she described an evening on the French Riviera when La Vie en Rose first came out, how the air held music – she was an aesthete. You get the sense that everything she did was imbued with an all-consuming attention to aesthetics. For Vreeland, a dog was not a dog and a spoon was not a spoon.
I’m reminded of the harsh reality of today, we only care about being trendy. We see street style bloggers and copy their colour blocking. Everyone wears Celine, so we want a Celine. Fashion tastemakers say prints are in, and so we all buy Zara print pants – knowing that in three months they’ll be rubbish. What happend to an esoteric sense of style that vehemently eschews trends?
Vreeland owned a handful of matching Balenciaga pant and top sets. Every summer she would pack those 6 articles of designer descent on her trip to the Hamptons. She bought those pieces because Cristobal was a genius. They were made to fit her body. And year after year, it would be those 6 pieces that formed her summer wardrobe. If any woman even dared to emulate this nowadays she’d be the laughing stock of her friends. Wear the same piece twice in one summer? Ridiculous. Wear it again next summer and the summer after? Girl, you trippin’.
I want to be more like Vreeland. To follow my inner style compass, as lame as that sounds, to forge a sense of style that is specific to my life, my experiences, my points of reference, my dreams… I’m tired of being a copycat woman. I want to go beyond trends; stop falling into that ‘peplum, prints and Lita’s’ trap. Maybe one day I’ll dress like Monica Vitti in La Notte. If someone should ask what the heck I’m wearing, and should they not get my reference, who gives a rat’s ass! It’s time we started to dress for ourselves. Vreeland dressed for herself, and in doing so, she had the most influence over the fashion world than anyone else you can name. And if you can name anyone else, they were probably best friends with her.