Instead of holding meetings, the larger-than-life Vogue editrix Diana Vreeland communicated through memos, dictated from the privacy of her office (and sometimes her bathroom, where she had a phone installed). She sent them to editors, fashion designers, photographers, and anyone else involved in creating the magazine.
Her grandson, Alexander Vreeland, collected these missives, along with the images from Vogue that they helped engineer, in a coffee-table book, published by Rizzoli in 2013. On March 25, another of her grandsons, Nicholas Vreeland, and a great-grandson, Reed Vreeland, chatted about the book in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre. The event was part of The Museum at FIT’s Fashion Culture programming.
Her missives are at turns funny, visionary, and insane. In one, she stressed the importance of seeing the ankle bones of Gypsies in editorial images. In another, she imagined a Vogue shoot taking place on the moon.
The letters were typed on many layers of onionskin. “If you got a clear memo, you were on top,” Nicholas remembered. “If you got a smudgy memo, you were probably the equivalent of an intern.”
She was relentless in getting her point across, often sending two or three memos about the importance of, say, the color gray.
“It’s very important to read them aloud,” Nicholas said. “You really get a sense of the way she used words.”