Diana Vreeland - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Diana Vreeland

The fabulous and flamboyant Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) was a genius fashion editor who became an American fashion icon herself. Raised in a wealthy family that spent a lot of time abroad, Vreeland returned from a stint in Paris in 1936 and was offered a job at Harper’s Bazaar. She started writing a column called “Why Don’t You?” that encouraged people to step outside of their norm and embrace their own ingenuity. Suggestions included “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?” Vreeland had a tenuous relationship with her mother, which made her look outward for role models—when she couldn’t find any, she decided she would be that role model. When she became fashion editor at Bazaar, she reinvented the entire position—she chose the clothes and models and oversaw the photography. Prior to her tenure, the job was basically a society lady’s pet project.

A visionary eccentric at heart, Vreeland had her Park Avenue apartment decorated completely in red, claiming that she wanted the place to “look like a garden, but a garden in hell.” In 1962, after being passed over for a promotion, she left Bazaar for Vogue, where she was instated as editor-in-chief. Using her influence, she discovered and launched the careers of many fashion photographers and models, including Richard Avedon, Edie Sedgwick, and Ali MacGraw. Vreeland truly lived a one-of-a-kind life that is a model for marching to the beat of your own drum for generations to come.

Why don’t you?