inspiration

{great love stories № 12 | diana & reed vreeland}

by

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Pizzazz : /pɪˈzaz/ an attractive combination of vitality and glamour

A beautifully vibrant and effervescently stylish couple, the toast of the social scene — Diana & Reed Vreeland will always be remembered as a couple whose opinion was respected, whose thoughts were listened to, and whose style was emanated the world over . . .

{great love stories № 06 | napoleon bonaparte & maria walewska}

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When one thinks of stylish individuals in history, Diana Vreeland’s name will always be at the top of the list.

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Having worked for Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962, and as editor-in-chief at Vogue from 1963-1971, a chic lifetime was spent determining and influencing what fashionistas wore, read, drank — she was the epitome of style.

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However, little is mentioned of her husband, Thomas Reed Vreeland (Reed), who supported her, inspired her, and loved her constantly throughout their 42-year marriage.

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Diana was born in Paris in 1903 to a privileged life. In 1914, her family relocated to New York, at the onset of World War I, and it is here that her quirky, yet well honed style began to shine.

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In 1922, she was featured twice in Vogue as a well-dressed socialite, and the next year, was presented to society as a debutante. Her cotillion ball was perfect timing, as while vacationing in Saratoga, Diana would meet Reed, who recently graduated from Yale.


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“It was love at first sight. Nothing could spoil my happiness. Reed made me feel beautiful.”

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Above, the Vreelands in Brazil

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The pair were blissfully happy — it was the best summer of Diana’s life! And without further ado, a wedding was planned for the following March. Diana’s relationship with her mother had never been wonderful — in fact, in her memoirs, Diana mentions an incident when her mother stated, “It’s too bad that you have such a beautiful sister and that you are so extremely ugly and so terribly jealous of her” — but ever stylish & graceful, Diana brushed the remark off by saying, “Parents, you know, can be terrible.”

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Around the time of her wedding to Reed, a terrible scandal ensued, and Diana’s mother was notably involved, and the cause of the divorce of a high profile marriage at the time. The scandal, tragically, resulted in the majority of the guests not attending her wedding ceremony at St. Thomas’ church in New York; Diana was distraught. The terrible incident estranged Diana and her mother, and sadly, they never spoke again.

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Above, DV’s LV collection

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

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However, Diana & Reed were determined that the scandal would not diminish their happiness, and instead moved to their own darling little cottage in Albany, New York where they began a family and lived a blissful domestic lifestyle.

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Above, during the Bazaar years, at home in her 400 Park Avenue, NY apartment

“I loved our life there. I was totally happy.” –Diana Vreeland

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Above, Diana photographed at home in London; the painting is by William Acton

As fate would have it though, the Vreelands’ relocated to the UK for Reed’s work in finance, and with much time on her hands, Diana decided to open a small lingerie boutique. Through word of mouth by celebrity clients, the boutique became marvelously successful.

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A wonderful time was had in London, and the pair had a delightfully vibrant social calendar and made some superbly high-profile friends, including Cecil Beaton & Wallis Simpson. One could only imagine the fun they must have had, with so many glamorous soiree’s and glittering parties to attend.

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Above, from left to right, Slim Keith with Diana & Reed at Kitty Miller’s New Year’s Eve party on Park Avenue, New York, December 31, 1952

In 1933, however, Diana & Reed decided to return to the US. Having lived quite a life of luxury, Diana realized she must now work if she were to maintain this lifestyle.

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Above, with Yves Saint Laurent, who said of Diane,“Mrs. Vreeland was one of the most exceptional people I have met in all my life. Her force of character, her glamour, her intelligence, her innate sense of elegance and her exuberance energized all those who met her.”

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Above & below, Diane at work in her Harper’s Bazaar office

“Mrs. Vreeland was not only responsible for the fashion look of the magazine but, I think, for the fashion of the time. She was very influential with the designers, very important in their choice of color, of mood. I would say, from a fashion point of view, Bazaar was a complete reflection of her taste.”

— Lillian Bassman, Painter & Photographer

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In quite perfect timing, Harper’s Bazaar editor, Carmel Snow, discovered Diana dancing at a party in St. Regis, and immediately enthralled with her sense of style and flair for fashion, invited her to write for the magazine. The rest, as they say, is history — Diana was to become one of the longest serving staffers at the magazine.

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“I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere. It was me – projecting to the public. That was my job. I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the public. Give ‘em what they never knew they wanted.”

–Diana Vreeland

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“Diana lived for imagination ruled by discipline, and created a totally new profession. Vreeland invented the fashion editor.”

— Richard Avedon, Photographer, from his speech at Diana Vreeland’s memorial service


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Diana & Reed continued to live their hopelessly glamorous lifestyle in New York, and in 1955, moved into the now infamous apartment on Park Avenue, with its now iconic Billy Baldwin-decorated red living room, of which Diana stated, “I wanted it to look like a garden. A garden in hell.”

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“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.'” –Diana Vreeland

Everything the couple did, wore, ate, drank, was noted as admirers attempted to emulate their style. In 1960, Esquire named Reed as one of the best-dressed men in America.


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From the time I got married at eighteen until the time I went to work in 1937, twelve years — I read. Reed and I would read things together out loud, which was marvelous. That was the charm of it – when you’ve heard the word it means so much more than if you’ve only seen it.”

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“Vogue always did stand for people’s lives. I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life your living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”

— Excerpt, DV by Diana Vreeland


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Above, Diane & Reed, chic travellers

Sadly, in the 1960’s, Reed developed cancer of the esophagus. The once strong, elegant gentleman’s health began to fail rapidly, and despite being remarkably busy as the editor of Vogue, Diana spent as much time as possible helping to care for him.

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In 1966, Reed tragically died and Diana was inconsolable.

* * * * *

 

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“I never felt comfortable about my looks until I met Reed Vreeland . . . Reed made me feel beautiful.”

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It takes a special kind of man to love and support a powerful woman, and Reed Vreeland was most definitely special. Lighting up Diana’s life, his constant support and encouragement was precisely what she needed, and all the while, remaining an elegant gentleman.

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A great love story with so much style & pizzazz — it is quite obvious this couple loved life, and loved one another with equal veracity, and should inspire us to enjoy and make the most of each moment in life with the one we hold dearest.

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Joey

previously

* great love stories № 01 : grace kelly & prince rainer III of monaco
* great love stories № 02 : nacho figueras & delfina blaquier
* great love stories № 03 : shah jahan & mumtaz mahal
* great love stories № 04 : elizabeth taylor & richard burton
* great love stories № 05 : prince william & kate middleton
* great love stories № 06 : audrey hepburn & robert wolders
* great love stories № 07 : napoleon bonaparte & maria walewska
* great love stories № 08 : john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette
* great love stories № 09 : paul newman & joanne woodward
* great love stories № 10 : ricky & ralph lauren
* great love stories № 11 : frank sinatra & ava gardner

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[image sources & credits : the {this is glamorous} tumblr /// stellamare /// together /// a previous article /// gala darling /// the karina chronicles /// explow /// cosmically chic /// buzzbox /// dv. /// paris, dv /// photography by george platt lyons via mark d. sikes /// the bert morgan archive /// mark d. sikes /// the bert morgan archive /// photography by jonathan becker, via mark d. sikes /// mark d. sikes /// photography by george platt lynes, via gala darling /// mark d. sikes /// scala regia /// ana_lee /// dv. /// dv. /// gala darling /// dv. /// dv. /// dv. /// the runway room /// the peak of chic /// dv. /// diamonds & rhubarb /// photography by jonathan becker, via mark d. sikes /// mark d. sikes /// mark d. sikes /// elizabeth avedon /// dv. /// mark d. sikes /// mark d. sikes /// mark d. sikes /// gala darling /// gala darling /// some quotations from fashion’s most wanted]

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{p.s.} Above & below, a glimpse into the Billy Baldwin-decorated English garden bedroom, also in the Park Avenue apartment, with walls covered in blue chintz and a bed designed by British designer Syrie Maugham.

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Contributor, Australia

Inspired by film noir, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels & the thought of a summer spent in Paris, this high tea connoisseur enjoys photography & designing & making her own clothes. Joey has been buying fashion, wedding & interior design magazines since a wonderfully young age, and would spend hours browsing through their glossy pages making ‘inspirational’ scrapbooks. Never spotted without high heels, a sketchpad, a pop of pink lipstick & a strong coffee— Joey adores great love stories, chandeliers, crème brûlée, the French countryside & sequins & sparkles & her long time sweetheart— the love of her life whose kisses still give her butterflies …
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