Fashion / Shopping

Women With Pizzazz

A Legendary Magazine Editor Inspires a Legion of Fashionable Gifts

BY // 12.20.18
photography Ivan Aguirre

Editor’s note: PaperCity’s counting down to the holidays with ultra-curated and distinctive gift guides.

Her dining room at 550 Park Avenue was clad in red, yellow, green and purple stripes. The walls of her office at Vogue were collaged with layers of her favorite historic references, fashion photographs, strips of paper with favorite quotes, typed letters, Japanese kites.

Her living room, which she famously declared a “garden in hell,” was a sensory experience from top to bottom.

“For the nose, there were vases of fresh flowers, scented candles, incense, and her favorite room spray,” remembers her grandson, Alexander Vreeland in his book Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years. “For the eyes, red fabric walls, books, a multitude of paintings, photographs, furniture, and immaculately polished objects and boxes on every surface. For the ear, endless stories and wonderful conversations.”

This is the great editor Diana Vreeland, whose tenures at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, from 1936 until the late ‘80s, transformed the role a fashion magazine played in the life of its reader. Looking at Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar during that time was like peering through a window into her brilliant mind.

Vreeland had long strong fingers and a lankiness that was both elegant and awkward at the same time. She stood stick straight and emoted theatrically. She spoke with a fabricated accent that was part English and part European — though it would be impossible to pinpoint the actual country of origin.

Vreeland was not, in the traditional sense, a great beauty. And it was this that, perhaps, drove her to seek great beauty — to create an image and dictate beauty; to reinvent what it meant to be beautiful; to discover muses who were great beauties themselves.

Thus we dedicate this year’s gift guide to the lover of all things extravagant, rigorous and inventive, and to the iconic women she created and introduced to the world. Penelope Tree. Veruschka. Marisa Berenson. Vreeland would say these women had pizzazz!

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