My Favorite Memos by Alexander Vreeland
To Miss Talmey1 of 1
RE: George Balanchine Copy
April 29, 1965
I love this memo as it shows how my Grandmother read each article in the magazine, and her concern for precision. She took appreciation in the little things, such as when someone saw the difference between referring to [George] Balanchine as “the great” or “the greatest living choreographer”. During my grandmother’s 26 years at Harper’s Bazaar as the Fashion Editor she was most known for her vision. But this memo shows her acting as an editor and weighing the importance of each adjective.
I also love the way she interacts with the writer; she challenged them yet was open to receiving feedback. There is a joyful tone to this memo.
To Mr Liberman1 of 1
RE: Tulips Decemer 1967 – Penn
March 27, 1967
I love the quote “ there is no point about being dramatic about tulips unless the flowers themselves are dramatic…” It reflects the level of passion and involvement that my grandmother had for each story or shoot in Vogue. She loved Mr. Penn’s still-life pictures and felt that they added an important dimension to the magazine…but the flowers had to be dramatic!
To Halston1 of 1
December 27th, 1967
This is a fun letter that my grandmother wrote to [Roy] Halston [Frowick] when he worked as a hat maker at Bergdorf Goodman. It shows my grandmother’s generous spirit, as she compliments and encourages Halston to break out on his own as a designer. She played a major role in encouraging and supporting a large number of young designers, including Manolo Blahnik, Oscar de la Renta, Diana von Furstenberg, and even Carolina Herrera.
To Madame de Langlade1 of 1
To Mrs. Ingersell1 of 1
December 27, 1967
My grandmother loved colors. In this memo she covers camel, vicuna, blues, clay pink, deep salmon, deep shrimp, and green.
She ends the memo with: “We must try and really help people with colors because most people are color ignorant…” She viewed part of her job as editor-in-chief as a way to educate people and broaden their horizons.
In her nine years as Editor-in-Chief, Diana Vreeland transformed Vogue from a sleepy social magazine to the powerhouse that it still is today. Now you can hear her in her own words as she leads this turn around. I am always struck with the modernity of her words and how she remains relevant and meaningful.
The memos in this book have preserved an important record of my grandmother’s greatest strengths, which are reflected into nine chapters. The chapters highlight different aspects of her unique management style and leadership ability. Alongside her vision of the ever-relevant Vogue woman and her genius that continues to inspire creative people, she possessed a relentless work ethic, strong direction and keen attention to detail.
- Alexander Vreeland
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