The collection documents the professional, social and family life of Diana Vreeland (1903-1989), editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine and prominent celebrity in the fashion and publishing industry. Vreeland's career at Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is documented. The collection also contains personal and family papers.
Biographical/historical: Diana Vreeland, renowned editor-in-chief of Vogue, and fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar, was a dominant force in the fashion industry of the mid-twentieth century. She was born Diana Dalziel in Paris in 1903, the daughter of British stockbroker Frederick Young Dalziel and Emily Key Hoffman, an American. In 1924, she married Thomas Reed Vreeland (1899-1906), a banker and international financier. The Vreeland marriage produced two sons, Thomas Reed, Jr. and Frederick Dalziel.
Although born into a wealthy and socially prominent family, Vreeland worked for most of her life. From the late 1920s to the mid-1930s, she ran a small lingerie business in London. After the Vreelands returned to the United States, she began writing a freelance column "Why don't you?" for Harper's Bazaar. In 1937, Vreeland was hired for the as fashion editor and she remained at Harper's Bazaar for twenty-five years. She resigned in March of 1962, disappointed that she was not asked to succeed Carmel Snow as editor-in-chief.
Vreeland's next career move was to Vogue, the leading rival of Harper's Bazaar. In an article in the New York Times announcing Vreeland's appointment as associate editor, Carrie Donovan wrote, "Mrs. Vreeland is the most respected editor in the fashion business today. Her appearance at a fashion show is a the highest accolade a designer can hope for. ... Along with the late Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, Mrs. Vreeland is credited with shaping the image of the magazine and, in turn, the looks of thousands of women." (New York Times, March 28, 1962).
At Vogue, she quickly rose to the position of editor-in-chief. She put her own personal stamp on the magazine and continued to make headlines in the fashion and business world. However, her personal style and extravagant spending conflicted with the priorities of the magazine's publisher. She was replaced as editor-in-chief in 1971, retaining the position of consultant.
During the final stage in her very long career, Vreeland revived the dormant Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Under her guidance and patronage, the Costume Institute would launch several spectacular exhibits that attracted the social elite and received high profile publicity. Among her Costume Institute triumphs were "The World of Balenciaga" in 1972 and "Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design" in 1974.
During the 1980s, Vreeland published two books, Allure (co-authored with Christopher Hemphill) and her autobiography, D.V..
Vreeland died in 1989, in New York City after a long period of illness.
Acquisition: Gift of Alexander and Nicholas Vreeland, October 2003