What do I think about the way most people dress? Most people are not something one thinks about. Diana Vreeland
the door shut and the chub locked, by habit, from the outside. i was locked in, stuck, in a friend’s apartment, in brixton, alone but for a half bottle of red wine and wogan. it was new year’s eve 1989. my date had driven his landlord to a party vowing to return before midnight. he did not. quickly becoming bored with the tv and, being nosy by inclination, i decided to snoop thru his landlord’s archives.
the landlord was a photographer, mostly of naked boys, barely out of their teens, as was i then, for british ‘soft’ pornographic magazines. he made his money however, taking society shots of the dressed and famous, for the glossy magazines and daily social and gossip columns. i found two pictures i really liked.
the photographs were a pair of 8″x10″‘s black and white on gloss paper, taken at some swell dinner in new york. i was young and ignorant, and though i recognised the white-haired, bespectacled man holding a compact 35mm s.l.r. in one shot as warhol; i had no idea who the rather exotic older woman with the aristocratic, or jolie laird, face leering out at me from the other picture was. she looked like mr jagger as he is now, but with a bob, and painted lips.
my errant hosts returned at dawn contritely brandishing bottles of champagne. they had ruined my new year’s eve, while they had snorted their way thru the night at the hampstead home of the more successful, troubled half, of wham. released from my prison i flounced off in mock fury, with a compensating treasure tucked in the voluminous folds of my winter coat, and one of the bottles of champagne clutched in a calf leather grip, kept chill in the freezing new year’s day morning air.
the two pictures were soon cheaply framed and hung on the wall, of my very cold and slightly damp room above ‘dunhill,’ on sloane street.
‘the ugly, lovely’, lady was diana vreeland wrists, neck and fingers heavy with the kenneth jay lane jewellery she had commissioned for chanel. i had read about her in pieces by truman capote, and a little about her work, but now i was really interested; after all i am gay. i ended up buying and devouring ‘allure’ and ‘dv’ attending any exhibition relevant to her, in london and later new york, and picking thru old vogue and harper’s magazines she had edited.
i was, and stay a fan.
i’m not sure whether i gave these two pictures as gifts to a friend before i left the uk or if they are at my mothers, hey-ho, i’m sure they will turn up sometime.
“elegance is innate. it has nothing to do with being well dressed. elegance is refusal.” diana vreeland
there are many excellent blogs and editorials about this icon, this muse of, and commentator on, the fashion world; as well as her own books, and biographies, here are a few:
- Diana Vreeland – Style Icon (waldina.com)
- Link Time: Carine Roitfeld’s Full Barneys Campaign, Diana Vreeland’s Fashion Legacy, and More (fabsugar.com)
- Diana Vreeland: A 20th Century Original (rubylane.com)
- Diana Vreeland Wouldn’t Survive a Day in the Information Age (lalanyc.com)
- Happy 140th Birthday, Bazaar! (fabsugar.com)
- When Dior came to India (thehindu.com)