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Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreelandby Amanda Mackenzie Stuart
Synopses & 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 life.
Talent-spotted by legendary editor Carmel Snow in 1936, Diana joined Harper's Bazaar as a fashion editor, where her singular point of view and signature style quickly made her a major creative force in American fashion. Under her influence, American designers became chic during World War II, and with her pizzazz she inspired a raft of fashion talent on both sides of the Atlantic.
Passed over as successor to Snow, Diana did the unthinkable and accepted the title of editor-in-chief of Bazaar's archrival, Vogue. In Diana's Vogue, women were not only offered shockingly short skirts and silver hipster pants: even more radically, they were encouraged to embrace the free spirit of the sixties, to resist fashion orders from on high, and to use their own imaginations in re-creating themselves. When Women's Wear Daily asked Diana, "What is the function of a fashion magazine?" she replied, "To instruct when possible, to delight, to give pleasure, to bring to the reader what interests her. Everybody makes an appearance every day."
In 1971 Diana was fired from Vogue. She reluctantly accepted a new position for herself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Special Consultant to the Costume Institute, only to reveal a new dimension to her brilliance. Her first show, on the work of designer Cristobal Balenciaga, drew more than 150,000 people to the museum, and the show that followed smashed all the record books. The Metropolitan was stunned, and today's blockbuster exhibition was born.
In this first full-length biography of Diana Vreeland, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart portrays a visionary: a fearless innovator who inspired designers, models, photographers, and artists.
Vreeland reinvented the way we think about style and where we go to find it. As an editor, curator, and wit, Diana Vreeland made a lasting mark and remains an icon for generations of fashion lovers.
“A painstakingly researched depiction of the imperious, mesmerizing virtuoso who wandered onto the fashion stage and stole the show...a biography of fabulous fact.” New York Daily News
“An insightful new biography….Stuart uses Vreeland's vulnerable roots to create a sympathetic portrait of Diana….Vreeland's life story is oddly inspiring….Why don't you give a copy of Empress of Fashion to your favorite fashionista this holiday season?” BookPage
“This is Diana Vreeland's first full-length biography….A cottage industry has emerged around DV…This perhaps has as much to do with how much more seriously we take fashion nowadays as with how quaintly delicious we now find Vreeland's borderline Dadaist sensibility...” Village Voice
“With Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland Stuart does more than celebrate and bear witness. She seeks to explain, to parse, and to ultimately decipher the woman behind the strokes of red rouge and dyed-black hair….Stuart paints a nuanced portrait of a strange and tantalizing woman.” Daily Beast
“The first comprehensive bio of legendary magazine editor Diana Vreeland is a can't-put-down read. Stuart separates facts from “faction” (Vreeland's term for her dramatic exaggerations) and gets to the core of the fashion pioneer.” People
“It is the biography (the Vreeland book) rather than the memoir (the Coddington volume) that offers the most insight into the deep motivation behind the making of such a career and carefully examines the occasional ugliness of a lifetime committed to making things externally beautiful.” New Republic
“This new in-depth biography traces not only Vreeland's career as an influential fashion editor, but also her early life as an unhappy child, but ultimately imaginative, fearless and hard-working young lady. For someone looking for a good, interesting and inspiring read rather than just a pretty photography book.” Fashionista, "The 25 Best Books for the Fashion Obsessed"
“Dazzlingly comprehensive, perceptive and many-sided.” New York Times Book Review
“A rare and welcomed view of her private life which was so often overlooked in favor of the glossy and more obvious parts of her life, including all the glamour and bon mots she was so free with… Would I recommend Empress of Fashion?... hell yes!” New York Journal of Books
“An illuminating biography.” O, the Oprah Magazine
“Assiduously but (very much unlike her subject) unassertively, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart makes a case for Diana Vreeland as one of the 20th century's premier figures. When you finish reading Empress of Fashion you're convinced Cleopatra could not have been more fascinating.” Bloomberg News
“It's scholarly but never dry — how can it be, with drop-ins by Josephine Baker, a young Lauren Bacall, Veruschka and Andy Warhol? — and an insightful, inspiring look at a complicated woman.” NJ Star Ledger
“[Empress of Fashion] stands out for its un-gushy, arms-length observation of a woman who used any means possible-including outrageous lies-to create the mise en scène for her life.” Wall Street Journal
“Meticulously researched....Stuart digs deep into how Vreeland created herself...and catches the breathlessness of the editor who had a profound influence on magazines 80 years after beginning her career.” Boston Globe
“An intelligent account of the life and accomplishments of legendary Vogue editor-in-chief, Diana Vreeland….A richly detailed and well-researched biography of a fashion icon” Kirkus Reviews
“A tasty and erudite study of a complicated woman and her turbulent and colorful cultural life and times….Fashion icon Diana Vreeland and her psyche and cultural milieu are superbly deconstructed by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart.” Publishers Weekly
“A sympathetic biography…a cohesive, well-researched volume….Vreeland is a fascinating figure whose life spanned almost the entire twentieth century, of which the author takes dizzying, delightful advantage.” Booklist
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.
A fearless innovator who inspired designers, models, photographers, and artists, Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Vogue, reinvented the way we think about style. In this first full-length biography, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart tells the story of Vreeland's childhood on New York's Upper East Side, her first job at Harper's Bazaar, her renowned post at Vogue, and her role as special consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Empress of Fashion is an intimate and surprising look at an icon who made a lasting mark on the world of couture.
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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