The iconic institution that is Diana Vreeland lives on thanks to the creative eye and wisdom of her grandson, Alexander Vreeland. The latest book launch, Diana Vreeland: The Modern Woman, is already making a splash and explores her 26 year career as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Decadent in images that showcase her creative genius and collaborations with visionary photographers, such as Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Lillian Bassman, Martin Munkacsi and George Hoyningen-Huene, this is obviously a must have book in any fashion and art lover’s personal library. Flipping through the pages you begin to touch on the groundbreaking work that she accomplished in the industry and see how her visual fashion fantasies are not only still relevant but have left an indelible mark on the industry she loved so much. Delving deep into this edition inspiration comes easily as Diana was so ahead of her time she still represents the modern woman.
As editor of this 300 page book, Alexander Vreeland wished to immortalize the essence of his grandmother’s legacy and body of work. Her vision of where women were going in the world helped shape a growing social landscape where femininity was celebrated and unveiled. Diana was actually quoted in 1946 saying that, “The bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb”. Indeed, the itsy-bitsy string bikini has never left the fashion scene and the world is still shaking.
Soulful, artistic, and business-minded, we had the good fortune to speak with the man carrying the torch that Diana Vreeland set fire to so many years ago.
It is an honor for you to have such enormous respect for your elders that you continue to shine a spotlight on the achievements of your grandmother. What was the moment that you knew that you wanted to make a book in homage to Diana?
My father and uncle asked me to takeover the Diana Vreeland Estate five years ago. Since then we have come out with a book nearly every year and my wife, Lisa, directed and produced the documentary about my grandmother called ‘The Eye Has To Travel’. The response to these books has been staggering and I want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see these creative, beautiful images.
What is the most exciting thing about the launch of this book for you?
The body of work she created during her 26 year tenure at Harpers Bazaar is the backbone of modern fashion imagery. The list of photographers and movie stars with whom my grandmother worked to create the axis between fashion and celebrity was a new concept and it revolutionized the content of fashion magazines.
If Diana were still around today what do you believe that she would want to see changed in the industry and what advice would she have for editors?
Have great creative ideas.
Do you have a favorite editorial piece from the compilation of your grandmother’s work?
I always loved the Lillian Bassman photo of Lisa Fonssagrives (Mrs. Irving Penn) driving the car that looks like it is flying.
It’s known that Diana very much loved perfumes and incense. What was her favorite fragrance?
My grandmother lived in an olfactive world and believed totally in the importance of fragrance in our lives. In her home, office, and even at the Metropolitan Museum of Art she had several scents going at any one time from candles to potpourri. She loved bold, beautiful fragrances.
What fragrance notes do you like the most?
I have worn all of our fragrances but right now I am most excited about Daringly Different. It is an iris oud. There is a beautiful balance between the iris, the woodsy oud and the leathery notes. I love the smoky aubergine bottle with the gold tassel. We also have a beautiful new scent coming out in February that I am looking forward to wearing.
You are an accomplished designer in your own right. What are some of the things that are inspiring you now?
I am fascinated with architecture and love to travel and discover buildings and different areas. I was just in Moscow and fell in love with the materials and spaces at The Garage.
You are very much a global citizen given that you grew up in Morocco, went to school in Paris, and lived in New York City. In all of your travels what is your favorite place?
I lived in Switzerland and Germany until the age of 8 and then we moved to Morocco. I remember the smells of the markets, the streets, and the trees once we got to North Africa. It was an olfactive treat. We lived in an orange grove and I discovered all the beautiful citrus smells from the blossoms to the fruits and more.
Who is the ‘Diana Vreeland’ woman of today?
Her philosophy was based on, ‘WHY DON’T YOU…?’ If she were alive she would be encouraging women to pursue their passions and their bliss in work, love and life.
Where would you like to see the brand in the future?
I have a vision that this will be an American luxury brand. We have developed eight fragrances to date and are currently working on more scents and products for the home.
Are there any upcoming releases that we should be getting excited about now?
We just launched our eighth fragrance this fall called Devastatingly Chic. It’s a beautiful spicy carnation scent created by Carlos Benaim. For the holidays we have also expanded our candle collection with some of our best selling scents.
Written By: Alicia Kunkel
Photo Credits: Vreeland
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