Allure / Elegance / Beauty | Diana Vreeland (1903 - 1989)

George Hoyningen-Huene, Diana Vreeland


''Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well dressed. Elegance is refusal.''

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it.”

“It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”

“You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.”

''Without emotion there is no beauty''

“Too much good taste can be boring”



Diana Vreeland, 1930


''Allure is a word very few people use nowadays, but it's something that exists. Allure holds you, doesn't it? Whether it's a gaze or a glance in the street or a face in the crowd or someone sitting opposite you at lunch... you are held.''

“A funny person is funny only for so long, but a wit can sit down and go on being spellbinding forever. One is not meant to laugh. 
One stays quiet and marvels. Spontaneously witty talk is without question the most fascinating entertainment there is.”

"To bewitch" is to me always slightly artificial as it is always put on -- whereas witchery is a form of naturalness that some people can't help, and the world judges that they don't create it "

“The first rule that a geisha is taught, at the age of nine, is to be charming to other women...Every girl in the world should have geisha training.”


Gloria Vanderbilt,  Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Harper's Bazaar, 1939

Fifteen year-old Gloria Vanderbilt appearing in Harper’s Bazaar for the first time in 1940, at the request of then 
fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who met Gloria at Gertrude' s Vanderbilt Whitney, home at Old Westbury.


''Beauty has nothing to do with possession. If possession and beauty must go together, then we are lost souls. A beautiful flower is not to be possessed, it's there to be beheld. It's there for your pleasure.''

“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.”

''You're not supposed to give people what they want, you're supposed to give them what they don't know that they want yet.''

''Most people haven't got a point of view; they need to have it given to them -and what's more, they expect it from you.''


Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland photo by Walters Sanders                                                Diana Vreeland by Richard Avedon, for Harper's Bazaar, 1946


''You've got to have style, it helps you get out of bed in the morning.''


“Black is the hardest color in the world to get right—except for gray...”


“All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’—they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the color of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.”

''Why don't you have a room done up in every color green? This will take months, years, to collect, but it will be delightful-a melange of plants, green glass, green porcelains, and furniture covered in sad greens, gay greens, clear, faded, and poison greens?''


“Lighting is everything in a color.”



Diana Vreeland photographed at her home in London sitting in front of the famous portrait painted by William Acton


"Paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys' nursery so they won't grow up with a provincial point of view?"


''I wonder about prisoners. They're told, "You are free, you are innocent, you can go anywhere." I'm sure they usually feel nothing. They don't burst into tears or hysterics or joy or "I told you so." It's nothing. To be on the straight path isn't a bloody thing. It's just ordinary.''



''Worse things happen at sea.’ That was my father’s great expression. It summed up any unpleasantness.”



''If you think all the time every day of your life, you might as well kill yourself today and be happier tomorrow.''



''If it isn't a passion, it isn't burning, it isn't on fire, you haven't lived.''




Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Diana Vreeland


''Don't look left nor right and never compete. Never. Watching the other guy is what kills all forms of energy.''


''The only thing people are interested in is people.''



''Never worry about the facts. Just project an image to the public.''



''God was fair to the Japanese. He gave them no oil, no diamonds. He gave them style.''



''One thing I hold against Americans is that they have no flair for the rain. They seem unsettled by it; it’s against them: they take it as an assault, an inconvenience! But rain is so wonderfully cleansing, so refreshing, so calming...''



''Water is God’s tranquilizer ''



Diana Vreeland and photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe created memorable images of 18-year old Betty in Helena Rubinstein’s
  apartment, while working at Harper's Bazaar. Vreeland discovered Lauren Bacall, only one of her many discoveries.


''All creations demand greenery of spirt. ''


''Fragrances fill the senses with the mysterious.''



''I think allure is something around you, like a perfume or like a scent. It's like a memory ... it pervades.''



''The hottest thing in the world is to wear pants with stockings.''



''Beware of curls… It is a great art to do them so that the girls not only look modern - but do not suddenly look very vulgar.''



''The way to judge a good hand is that the fingers are the same size at the tip as where they come out of the hand itself.''



''It's only intelligent to wish to look after yourself properly.''



William Acton, Diana Vreeland, 1930s



''I think your imagination is your reality.''

''The personality is a work of art.''

''I certainly didn't learn anything in school. My education was the world.''

''No one knows how hard one works.''

“Where would fashion be without literature?”

''When I discovered dancing, I learned to dream.''

''Of course I was always mad about the ballet russe, mad about it!.''

''Parents, you know, can be terrible.''


Diana Vreeland by George Platt Lynes in her 400 park avenue apartment


“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”

“People who eat white bread have no dreams.”

“Unshined shoes are the end of civilization.”

“I adore fringe.”

''Never fear being vulgar, just boring, middle class or dull.''

''Being vulgar is fine, but oh please just don't be boring.''

“I adore that pink, it is the navy blue of India!”

“What sells is hope.”

“Maintainence is elegance.”




''The two greatest mannequins of the century were Gertrude Stein and Edith Sitwell - unquestionably. You just couldn't take a bad picture of those two old girls.''

''I never felt comfortable about my looks until I married Reed Vreeland. I believe in love at first sight because that's what it was. I knew the moment our eyes met that we would marry.''


''I have always felt that the only great thing about an interview is the questions that are asked.''


Diana Vreeland (1903 - 1989) was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion 
magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and as a special consultant at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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