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Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland
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Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  338 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Born into a family of privilege, Diana Dalziel Vreeland grew up amid the fashionable of New York's Upper East Side. With a famously alluring mother and a classically beautiful sister, young Diana often felt isolated and unloved. But she was saved from her unhappy childhood by her audacious imagination as well as the grit and determination that would shape her extraordinary ...more
Hardcover, 419 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Harper
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Before the Devil wore Prada, she wore Balenciaga and was known as DV, the divine Diana Vreeland. With little formal education, but with plenty of style and pizazz, Ms. Vreeland moved from society wife to fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar to Editor-in-Chief of Vogue to curator of the Costume Institute at the4 Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along the way she advanced the careers of designers, photographers & fashion models and changed the way Americans and, perhaps the world, looked at fashion.

Thoroughly fascinating. I expected a scandal-ridden tell-all biography about the horrors of the fashion industry, so I picked it up to flip through for the good bits. I ended up getting completely swept up in the history of a wholly self-made woman who, love her or hate her (many people seem to have felt one way or the other about her - no one who met her could be indifferent), had a tremendous cultural influence on fashion, photography, and women for fifty years. AND she was a vibrant, working ...more
Terri Durling
I have been a clothes horse for most of my life and am crazy for anything related to fashion - no matter what venue. Diana Vreeland was a very interesting character and hit her stride when she joined "Harper's Bazaar" as a fashion editor in 1936. She never stopped and moved on to become editor-in-chief for Vogue until 1971. She reinvented herself after she was fired from Vogue and, at an age when most of us would have long retired, she accepted a position at Special Consultant to the Costume Ins ...more
Stacey Jones
I thought this book was absolutely amazing. I was riveted to every page and couldn't stop talking about it; I recommended it to everyone who would listen, including other tourists at breakfast at our B&B in Florence. This book is a fascinating study, not only of a woman who influences all of us to this day, but of the time she lived in. She seemed to have a constant conversation with the zeitgeist of western culture in the 20th century, and what she did with this was astounding.

Mackenzie St
Celia Montgomery
The perfect companion to Vreeland's autobiography, which I read first. Vreeland's story becomes stronger when one learns that large parts of it are pure fiction. Self invention as art. Although Vreeland's strongest work was definitely reflected in her magazine features and in her spectacular MET exhibitions, her life story is an equally remarkable invention. When faced with pain (a mother's rejection, a husband's infidelity) Vreeland simply made up a new story to erase the one she couldn't contr ...more
LAPL Reads
She was not a pretty child, but it was stingingly cruel for Diana Dalziel’s mother to tell the young girl that she was ugly. The mother and sister were beauties, and the contrast with young Diana was even more obvious. After a miserable childhood, the teenaged Diana, or De-e-e-e-ahna as she said it was to be pronounced, took charge of her own life and created The Girl. After that there was no stopping this jolie laide who went on to become Diana Vreeland, a major power broker behind twentieth ce ...more
Surprisingly fascinating biography of former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Through her story you learn the history of American fashion, and particularly American sportswear, coming into its own and how Vogue went from the stodgy fashion magazine for society mothers to a cutting edge capsule of youth and couture. The first chapters on her childhood were wearing, but it was delightful to get to know the woman behind the column "Why Don't You?" and how she pushed women to go a little farther and tak ...more
This is the story of the iconic fashion editor, Diana Vreeland, from her career at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue to her reign as consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She takes us with her to a social scene including Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Lauren Bacall, Penelope Tree, Lauren Hutton, Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and the Kennedys. A fascinating expose' of an amazing lady. Interesting and intri ...more
This is one of the best biographies that I have read. It is not a prerequisite to be a "fashionista" to enjoy the book (I am not one). At times, I have been guilty of dismissing fashion as trivial or without much social relevance. I stand corrected, and this books helps to explain why. In essence, what we wear is a projection of our intimate self to the world and Ms. Stuart does an excellent job of informing us how Diana Vreeland was a catalyst to help is see this.

The book is well-balanced, well
Kellie Ramsey
As a teen I loved Edith Head, Ralph Lauren and I devoured Vogues and Bazaars that my aunt who worked in the fashion industry brought home for me. Vreeland's influence ran through these fashion pages. She brought the Costume institute to The Met and I would excitedly view the exhibits. This biography gives a nice look behind the scenes of the NY high life, fashion and how orindary people with inordinate creativity and beget whole new paradigms. You don't have to be a "fashionista," to enjoy this ...more
I read two Diana Vreeland bios back to back, which made for some interesting repetition between the two titles. Nevertheless, this was a fascinating book. What I liked best about it was that the author put her ideas and iconoclasm into context, so you had a fuller understanding of just why she was so unusual and such a pioneer in the the field of fashion. The book also served a bit as a Fashion 101 of the 20th century, and showed how fashion reflects, embodies, and/or reacts to larger trends and ...more
Diana Vreeland has been a woman that I admire for quite some time. When I moved to New York, there were two people that I wanted to meet, Mrs. Vreeland and Andy Warhol. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but my fascination with the two of them continues.

This book was well researched and there were numerous references that I wrote down to follow up.
As a result, I now have even more books on my Wish List!

Mrs. Vreeland remained a creative force in the world of fashion until her death. She was a true
Excellent thoroughly researched biography of an eccentric, talented woman. Loved this book and felt genuinely sorry when I finished reading the last page!
Oct 15, 2014 Eva rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Amazing woman, amazing book. Loved it.
Loved this book so much more than the memoir DV. I was only passingly familiar with Diana Vreeland before but I have a great appreciation for her now.
Meh. I had fun revisiting the fashion world of the 60s and 70s, but found DV tiresome, overall. Her inclination to embellish, embroider, and just plain make stuff up wears everyone down. I did applaud her ability to go with her gut, which is the part of her story I do enjoy. She was a strange, self-imagined creature of a make believe world.

It's not a bad read, and if you like fashion history, this will deliver enough color and stories to make it worth your time.
A.a. Patawaran
I am mad, mad, mad about this book, just as I am mad about Diana Vreeland. Not only is it about her life, but about the world in which her life was shaped, that fabulous world, from the '20s to the '80s, where much of what we are now, much of what we wear now took its cues. It's a great read and I believe it is the first true biographical sketch on Vreeland. Please read my review, "D.V.Nation" on
I'm throwing in the towel on this one (about a third of the way in). Not sure what the problem is. I'm really into fashion and its history, and the book is well-researched and seems thorough, but it's not grabbing me. Feels like a slog. There are too many other books staring at me from the shelf that seem like they will be time better spent. Maybe, ultimately, I just don't like Ms. Vreeland enough to hang out with her this long? Not sure. Oh well.
Michele Weiner
I'm always interested in what makes people tick, and this biography has, for my taste, too little of Diana's life and times, and too much of her ridiculously overwrought prose for her magazines. An admirable lady with lots of quirks and eccentricities that ought to make the book more fascinating, but somehow gets lost in descriptions of silly fashion stuff. And I love fashion and museums of fashion. I would have loved her Met exhibits, I'm sure.
Surprisingly good. Excellent social history.
Strangely, although filled w descriptions of the 'fashion' world reads like a sort of romance (I guess I mean that in a good way) or an Edith Warton novel - I finally got bored. This woman does not have much 'depth' - my take...but lots of emotion (and I don't mean that in a good way).
Fun and mostly interesting romp about a fascinating, towering figure in fashion and style, Diana Vreeland. A new look at how her childhood made her who she was. Some facile psychologizing, but it's a quick read. Good companion piece to the current movie, The Eye Must Travel.
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Diana Vreeland's life as told by Stuart reads like a novel. D. V. was so passionate and exuberant - the original tastemaker for millions of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue readers. Definitely worth reading.
One of the more interesting biographies I've had the pleasure to read. DV was quite a character, and her life and career spanned times very different from today - the Roaring 20's, the suffragette movement... We've come so far in just one lifetime.
Andrea Anderson
a weak 3 stars. just ok. took me *forever* to get through it. subject matter was excellent, but it got bogged down on the details & repetition. almost felt like i was reading a textbook at times. would have liked more pics, also.
Elizabeth Finney
I'm so interested in Vreeland, and glad to have read this bio and all the facts in it, but not the best bio ever. Difficult, of course, when your subject has written her own autobiography which is terribly amusing and almost 85% wrong.
Very informative and at times, a bit dense. Stuart did a great job of bringing Vreeland to life while still maintaining a balanced view of her contributions. While it did take me a while to get through, it was overall an enjoyable read.
Septembre Anderson
Very informative book not only about the life of Diana Vreeland but about fashion history from the 1930s to the 1970s. Great companion to D.V. as it debunks and decodes the myths Diana Vreeland told about her life.
"To dance is to experience a vitality and a lust for life that exists in each of us." - Diana Vreeland

"I don't like to work. I only like to dream and achieve ... quite a different matter." - Diana Vreeland
I like Vreeland's story but disliked the author's writing. It couldn't keep my attention.
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