Style according to Diana Vreeland

“Style is everything…style is a way of life. Without it, you’re nothing.”

Diana Vreeland passed away the year I was born. That doesn’t excuse the fact I knew very little of her until recently. A few Sundays ago, on their Arts Up Late program, the ABC ran a fabulous documentary on the ‘Grandmother of fashion’ entitled The eye has to travel. Released in September last year, the documentary chronicles the unconventional and exciting life of the woman responsible for launching countless famous faces including Twiggy, Lauren Hutton, Penelope Tree and Angelica Huston to name a few.

Aside from her obvious achievements including her work at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, what inspired me most about DV was her devotion to making herself and her life as interesting and as fabulous as possible. Quoted as saying “There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself,” and “Why not make a story more interesting?” her refusal to be boring is a wonderful reminder that the best asset we all have is our uniqueness. 

Below are ten lessons in life, and fashion, that we can all learn from the great DV.

  1. “Fashion must be the most intoxicating release from the banality of the world.”
  2. “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste –it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”
  3. “Black is the hardest colour in the world to get right – except for grey…”
  4. “You know the greatest thing is passion, without it what have you got? I mean if you love someone you can love them as much as you can love them but if it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.”
  5. “Style – all who have it share one thing: originality.”
  6. “…a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”
  7. “A lie to get out of something, or take an advantage for oneself, that’s one thing; but a lie to make life more interesting – well, that’s entirely different.”
  8. “Whatever the fashion, the important thing is time for upkeep. We take it for granted that a girl gets the best she can for herself. But, if she doesn’t keep it up, if it isn’t in beautiful condition, if the shoes aren’t cleaned before she wears them every day and her bag isn’t cleaned and everything in it cleaned, she’ll never look like anything.”
  9. “What’s extraordinary is the way everything modern fits in with everything old. It’s all a matter of combining. There’s no beginning or end there only continuity.”
  10. “I have a terrible time remembering exactly when my birthday is. Age is totally boring…”

Written by SJ