ADVERTISEMENT

Vogue editor Diana Vreeland and model Marissa Berenson in "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel."

, Estate of James Karales

Withering Glance: How to live in divine Vreeland style

  • Article by: Rick Nelson and Claude Peck
  • Star Tribune
  • October 27, 2012 - 3:46 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: I'm so glad we saw "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel" at the matinee. That gave me time to race home and drape my boudoir entirely in Chinese red. I'm simply mad about the new color scheme.

RN: I'm disappointed that you didn't co-opt Mrs. Vreeland's mink-lined speaking style and pronounce it maaaaaaaaaaaad.

CP: That's half the fun of the movie, hearing her plosive consonants as she smiles, puffs a cigarette and goes on about Paaaaris and Baaalenciaaaga.

RN: Was it Jane Pauley or Diane Sawyer -- in cringe-worthy, Carter-era togs and coifs -- who asked la Vreeland about personal style? Her reply was something along the lines of how one first must arrange to be born in Paris.

CP: Indeed. But wherever Vreeland found herself in this or that decade -- Paris, London, New York -- that was the center of the world.

RN: And then she funneled that life experience onto the pages of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, and then at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute.

CP: And what pages they were. Bold. Beautiful.

RN: Stunners. Not bad for a New York City girl who didn't get past high school, and wanted to spend the 1920s in Harlem, dancing. "I was considered rather fast," she said. The fast ones among us always are so much more fascinating.

CP: Of course, I loved it when she told interviewer George Plimpton, "I was an editor for 40 years, I know who's in charge."

RN: If she were running magazines today, she would be an HR nightmare. But it's safe to say that she was never boring. I keep a memo of hers, from Vogue in 1969, tacked to the wall of my cubicle. It announces the arrival of fake leather from France. "It will change the course of history," she wrote.

CP: And who's got time for parenting when you are singlehandedly bringing the minidress to America? As a mom, Vreeland was more like a stereotypical tycoon father of her era, unable to give her sons Tim and Frecky much in the way of -- I don't know -- love.

RN: Details. Some moms excel at being Cub Scout den mothers. Our Diana was busy discovering Lauren Bacall, and telling Dick Avedon to celebrate the gap between Lauren Hutton's front teeth.

 

CP: I love how easily she went from being a young woman who "never dressed before lunch" to a full-time working journalist.

RN: A rouge-addicted, Chanel-obsessed role model for us all. "Eye" should be required viewing at every journalism school in the country. Or, as D.V. would say, the wuuuuuuuuuuld.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com Follow on Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

© 2014 Star Tribune