In Review: Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland


I've always admired Diana Vreeland, and was delighted when 'Memos: The Vogue Years' was released earlier this month.

Edited by her grandson Alexander Vreeland, and featuring contributions by Polly Mellon, Grace Mirabella and Susan Train, Memos chronicles how Vreeland transformed Vogue from a society magazine to a daring, and contemporary publication. Vreeland was Editor of American Vogue from 1962 to 1971, and under her tenure, the publication was given a new lease of life.

Memos tells the story of this transformation through fascinating and witty personal correspondence, many containing amendments in Vreeland's own distinctive and fantastic handwriting. We learn about some of Vogue's most celebrated stories through Vreeland's own words, and have an insight into her relationships with individuals including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Richard Avedon and Snowdon. We are also treated to an education of fashion at the time, with memos and letters to and from designers such as Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg.

Each chapter of Memos is introduced by commentary from Vogue editors who worked with Vreeland, giving readers a truly inside look at her unique management style. Vreeland did not believe in meetings, brainstorming, or consensus, electing instead to communicate with her staff, photographers, designers and writers through one-on-one conversations and daily correspondence. At the beginning of each day, Vreeland dictated memos by phone from her Park Avenue apartment. When she arrived at the Vogue office—which was never before noon—she annotated the typed-up results, sometimes adding her initials with a colorful felt-tip pen before the missives were dispatched by one of her assistants.

This really is the perfect book for any individual looking for a personal and behind-the-scenes insight into the world of fashion publishing, and where better to begin with the legend that is Diana Vreeland!

© Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years Edited by Alexander Vreeland, Rizzoli New York, 2013.

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