Book Review: The Empress of Fashion

by Erin on January 24, 2013

I don’t know about all y’all, but for me Christmas isn’t Christmas if I don’t get at least one fantastic book that I burn through like a flash fire. This year, I asked for (Thanks Ro and George!) and got this marvelous book about Diana Vreeland:

Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland

Honestly, it was everything I hoped for and more — much more biographical detail than Vreeland put into her own books (Allure and D.V.), much more historical context (I had no idea of the connections between Vreeland and Warhol, for instance), and many, many, many fantastic quotes, including:

I suffered, as only the very young can suffer, the torture of being conspicuous.

and

When you’ve heard the word, it means so much more than if you’ve only seen it.

and

You must always give ideas away. Under every idea is a new one waiting to be born.

and especially

Luck is infatuated with the efficient.

and

Funny girls would rather look interesting than safely pretty. The look they avoid, in fact, is prettiness in the country-club sense.

and — further proof that DV was very wise –

What do I want with a bloody old handbag that one leaves in taxis and so on? It should all go into pockets. Real pockets, like a man has, for goodness’ sake.

Honestly, if you can read all those quotes and NOT want to read this book … well, go back to the beginning and read them again.

Vreeland has always topped my list of “what person in history would you want to have dinner with?” and this book almost makes up for that never happening. Almost. (Where’s my gosh-darn time machine?)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Piroska January 24, 2013 at 5:32 am

Thanks for posting about this book, it looks fascinating! I’ve just ordered a copy from my local library, can’t wait to read it.

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Lydia January 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

“Funny girls would rather look interesting than safely pretty. The look they avoid, in fact, is prettiness in the country-club sense.”

PREACH

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Scarlettb January 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

This year, Erin, I got YOUR book for Christmas, from a friend who didn’t even know that I am a devotee of this site. She just saw it and knew that I would love it (and I do).

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Erin January 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

aw, thank you! I’m glad you liked it!

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Sufiya January 28, 2013 at 5:08 am

I knew as soon as i saw “empress of fashion” that you were talking about DV. I completely agree that SHE is the person I would most like to have dinner with! Apparently Charles James HATED her because he felt that she was out to aggrandize herself when she was supposed to be aggrandizing HIM. He referred to her as “that faggot woman”…a definite case of the pot calling the kettle black! He also refused to have anything to do with the Metropolitan Museum because she was there! I always thought it ironic that her mother called DV “ugly little monster” and DV’s sister was the “beauty”-yet who remembers either of them? Or even knows their names? They had the looks, but DV has “immortality”! And DV wasn’t THAT ‘ugly”, really; she was rather ‘androgynous’, not ‘cute” or ‘feminine”, hence the “ugly” label! One has only to look at the “belles’ of the day t0 see what was the standard, and “tall dark and angular” wasn’t it!

But thank you for mentioning this book; I will definitely be tracking it down; I LOVE reading about Diana Vreeland!

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Scrapiana January 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Fabulous! A read to really get your teeth into.

I think I missed the big DV documentary – or it skipped my local independent cinema. But will look out for this. Thanks!

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Evalyn January 29, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Lost your time machine? That’s what happens when you don’t empty your pockets. It probably went through the wash and ended up where ever all those stray socks go.

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Lisa January 30, 2013 at 12:17 am

Wow, great quotes. Love the ones about ideas, and luck. Will follow up this book through the library.

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