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Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland [Kindle Edition]

Amanda Mackenzie Stuart
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.99
Kindle Price: $10.40
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

Diane von Furstenberg once called Diana Vreeland a "beacon of fashion for the twentieth century." Now, in this definitive biography by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, is the story of the iconic fashion editor as you've never seen her before. From her career at the helms of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, to her reign as consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vreeland had an enormous impact on the fashion world and left a legacy so enduring that must-have style guides still quote her often wild and always relevant fashion pronouncements.

With access to Vreeland's personal material and photographs, critically acclaimed biographer Amanda Mackenzie Stuart has written the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at Diana Vreeland and her world—a jet-setting social scene that included 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. Filled with gorgeous color photographs of her work, Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland is an elegant and fascinating account of one of the most revered tastemakers of the 20th century.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: In several ways, Empress of Fashion is much like the woman it covers. Like Diana Vreeland (1903–1989)--the imperious, transformative editor of Vogue magazine, then the creator of the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum--British journalist Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s biography lasts a long time. And while it isn’t always traditionally well formed, it is far deeper, smarter, and more important than it first appears. Who was Diana Vreeland? An arbiter of beauty who, by just about everyone’s admission, was not beautiful; a working woman before it was fashionable; a fiercely independent soul with an overriding, lifelong, bourgeois concern about money. And while Mackenzie Stuart might tread a tiny bit too heavily into the Freudian--Vreeland constantly tried to prove herself to her neglectful and often nasty mother, even years after the older woman's death--her deep research into everything from Vreeland’s childhood diaries to her social life (shimmying at Studio 54 in her 80s!) makes this bio, which has the approval of Vreeland’s estate, nothing short of--as Mrs. Vreeland herself might say--“divine.” --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

Stuart’s sympathetic biography has for its subject a fascinating figure whose life spanned almost the entire twentieth century, of which the author takes dizzying, delightful advantage—pre-Depression New York society life, between-the-world-wars Europe, and American dynamism of wartime and beyond—and thus provides a sturdy backdrop for the story of a legendary personage. Stuart reveals how Vreeland’s youthful struggles with acceptance from her mother, peers, and herself formed the Diana who, with a tendency to exaggerate and a flair for the exotic, irrevocably altered fashion journalism. Steadfast and headstrong, the delightfully quotable—to varying degrees of comprehension—Vreeland made leaping creative strides at Harper’s Bazaar only to often remake them at the more circulated but more conservative Vogue years later. The bright cast of photographers, models, and celebrities who filled Vreeland’s world adorn this cohesive, well-researched volume. The author acknowledges Lisa Immordino Vreeland, director of the 2012 documentary The Eye Has to Travel for her shared research. Readers will find the film and biography an exquisite pairing. --Annie Bostrom

Product Details

  • File Size: 1354 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (December 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008B1BMBG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,983 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography of my mother January 19, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is actually a book about my mother, Diana Vreeland. I found it fascinating and learned so many things I never knew before about my family. It has been very carefully researched and revealed so much about my parents and grandparents that was new to me. Diana Vreeland herself is a totally original character who invented herself and for whom you never feel sorry but only admiration, right up to the end. Her life clearly defines well-known eras, the twenties, the forties, the sixties. Diana Vreeland emerges triumphant!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before Anna came "De-ahna" at Vogue... December 13, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
British author Amanda Mackenzie Stuart has produced a sublimely readable biography of Diana Vreeland. Vreeland, editor of Harper's Bazaar, Vogue (pre-Grace Mirabella and Anna Wintour), and exhibition creator at the Metropolitan Art Museum's Costume Institute, was one of the great figures in the fashion world in the 20th Century. Larger than life, Diana Vreeland cast pearls of wisdom in her "Why Don't You?" column in Bazaar in the Depression years of the 1930's and followed up as arbiter of fashion - both American and French - in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's.

Diana Dalziel Vreeland was born of a British father and an American mother, in 1903 in Paris. Her family moved to New York right before WW1, but Diana, with her Parisian birth, remained a Franco-phile her entire life. Because she was not a beautiful woman - her mother and younger sister were the beauties in the Dalziel family - Diana had to use her brains and creativity to get ahead in the world. She married an extremely handsome man - Thomas "Reed" Vreeland - and raised two sons with him. Reed Vreeland was a banker but Diana made the coin in the Vreeland household.

Intensely creative and ambitious, Diana went to work at Harper's Bazaar for editor Carmel Snow as a sort of editor-at-large, giving seemingly gratuitous advise to Bazaar readers like, "Why don't you 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?" Other suggestions like washing your blonde daughter's hair in champagne to keep its color may have seemed a bit out of step with the times, but somehow Vreeland's audacious writing to her middle-class readers was considered charming.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was Diana Vreeland a Genius? December 30, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Dean of American interior design - Albert Hadley - once said Diana Vreeland was the only genius he ever met. Capote concurred saying, "She's a genius but she's the kind of genius that very few people will ever recognize because you have to have genius yourself to recognize it. Otherwise you just think she's a rather foolish woman."

As the author of this book, Amanda McKenzie Stuart, wryly observes: "Capote, of course, parachuted out of an explanation by asserting that one had to be a genius to understand what he meant." Was Vreeland a creative genius? If yes, what was the nature of her genius? How did it manifest itself in her work? How has it impacted us, and what can we learn from her particular genius?

This riveting and brilliant biography explores those questions. "This book is for non-geniuses interested in the nature of Diana Vreeland's talent and achievements," writes Stuart.

It is fitting that Vreeland has a British biographer in Amanda Mackenzie Stuart. Stuart understands if it weren't for Vreeland's time in England from 1929-1935, Vreeland never would have had an entree into the fashion-publishing world. Vreeland's exposure to Europe then, and earlier, distinguished her and enriched her perception. It was in London that she was mentored by Elsie De Wolfe (Lady Mendl), was drawn by Cecil Beaton, took tea with Conde Nast, met Wallace Simpson and the King and Queen of England, and flew to Paris to be fitted by Coco Chanel. When Vreeland returned to America, her insights into fashionable European society were in demand. These contacts she made in Europe would support everything she accomplished in the future.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant Iconoclast December 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. The subject, Diana Vreeland,was a fascinating individual on many levels. The author is an elegant writer who captured her subject, the times and events perfectly. It is rare to read a biography where the author has accurately portrayed her subject while holding back any judgements or opinions on that subject. It gives the reader the benefit of the doubt that they are capable of arriving at an opinion (if necessary) and the "permission" to enjoy the story unencumbered by the attitudes or preconceived notions of the author.
Diana Vreeland was an original and an innovator and like another woman of her times, Julia Child, she changed women's lives forever.
I heartily recommend this excellent book to anyone but particularly to those readers who admire strong, iconoclastic survivors.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're into fashion March 6, 2013
By I P
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is very well written but I think those into fashion will enjoy it more than those interested in Diana. I wanted to know more about Diana as a person, her personality, her interaction with others, her personal relationships, anecdotes and things like that. Alas, at times it felt like I was reading a collection of Vogue essays musing about colors, shapes and forms. It's too artsy to be engaging and my eyes would start to glaze over more than a few times. Diana met so many interesting and exciting people, who are only briefly mentioned here. Her husband, clearly someone very special (he captured her heart!) doesn't get much attention. Towards the middle the book focuses solely on fashion and artistic description of her work and ideas. A couple of times I got excited, like when her collaboration with Jackie Kennedy was mentioned but for the most part I kind of wanted for it to end. Three stars for beautiful writing. I wish the content was more solid.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect present!
One of the most fascinating books on style I have read. Have ordered several copies for my friends. A perfect present!
Published 1 month ago by Jutta MCNeil
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Dee-Anna Vreeland was the original "it girl". I loved reading an unbiased relatively honest point of view. It was a great read and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Published 4 months ago by Eileen K. Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars Diana explained! If that is possible!
She was fascinating and unique and very smart and observant. She remembered things as she wanted to. Amanda Stuart does the research, and sets things straight. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Gillespie
4.0 out of 5 stars A well researched biography
I do not usually like reading biographies - as opposed to autobiographies - but this one seems very well researched and written, so that the reader gets a sense of who Diana... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Heather Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The writing is excellent and well researched.
Published 4 months ago by judge susan sexton
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating life
This biography will appeal to those who are interested in women who have led unconventional lives with lasting impact on our wider culture. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars ... read for people interested in fashion and people who enjoy reading...
An interesting read for people interested in fashion and people who enjoy reading about great characters.
Published 5 months ago by Emilia Pietak
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful examination of a fabulous life
I was so enchanted with this book I could not put it down--read it in two days. Although DV was the subject, I got a great big dose of the world of fashion from the 1930's to the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jeanajoan
5.0 out of 5 stars Empress of Fashion
Wonderful book on the true empress of fashion, Diana Vreeland. This book documents not only her life but the profound effect that Mrs. Read more
Published 7 months ago by me fox
3.0 out of 5 stars not sure
while the author says at the outset there is a dearth of writing about DV and then proceeds to restate every anecdote in the other works on her life, such as her biography DV and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by CD in DC
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More About the Author

Amanda Mackenzie Stuart worked as a screenwriter and independent film producer for a number of years before publishing her first biography, the critically acclaimed Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and Mother in the Gilded Age. She lives in Oxford, England.

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