Legacy and Influence on Fashion Design

The last collection Vionnet produced was shown in August 1939 and acknowledged the current vogue for romantic, figure-enhancing styles. Fragile-looking black laces were traced over palest silver lamé, with appliquéd velvet bows to pull out and shape the lighter weight lace overdress and add fashionable fullness to skirts. Vionnet closed her house on the outbreak of World War II. Her work had been hugely influential in both Europe and the Americas during the period between the wars. While she sought to stand outside fashion and create timeless clothing, her liquid bias cut became a defining emblem of 1930s sophistication and style and inspired Hollywood designers to use bias-cut gowns to create iconic images of actresses such as Jean Harlow. Her experiments with fabric control and manipulation and the advances she made in testing the boundaries of fabric construction left a complex legacy which has inspired designers as diverse as Claire McCardell, Ossie Clark, Azzedine Alai'a, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and John Galliano.

When Vionnet died in 1975, her place within the history of fashion in the early twentieth century was assured. Perhaps because of the lack of drama in her private life and her unwillingness to give many interviews, she was less well known than some of her contemporaries. However, Vionnet's focus on experimentation and her desire continually to redefine the relationship between body and fabric provided women with clothing that expressed the period's dynamic modernity.

Vionnet embraced the dressmaking skills she had learned as a child apprentice and elevated them to new levels of complexity, yet she always strove to produce finished garments that preserved, and indeed celebrated, the integrity of the materials she used and the natural shape of the wearer's body. She viewed couture as a testing ground for the new identities that the twentieth century created. Her clients became living embodiments of modern femininity, clad in garments inspired by contemporary art, Asian wrapping techniques, and classical antiquity. In Vionnet's hands these elements were united into dramatically simple silhouettes. Vionnet's intimate knowledge of cutting and draping enabled her to create clothing that expressed the dynamism and potential of women's increasingly liberated lives.

See also Cutting; Embroidery; Film and Fashion; Lingerie; Tea Gown.


Chatwin, Bruce. What Am I Doing Here. London: Picador, 1990. Demornex, Jacqueline. Vionnet. London: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1991.

Evans, Caroline, and Minna Thornton. Women and Fashion: A

New Look. London: Quartet, 1989. Kirke, Betty. Madeleine Vionnet. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1998.

Koda, Harold, Richard Martin, and Laura Sinderbrand. Three Women: Madeleine Vionnet, Claire McCardell, and Rei Kawakubo. New York: Fashion Institute of Technology, 1987. Exhibition catalog. Milbank Rennolds, Caroline. Couture: The Great Designers. New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, Inc., 1985.

Rebecca Arnold

VOGUE Vogue is fashion's bible, the world's leading fashion publication. It was founded in 1892 as a weekly periodical focused on society and fashion, and was subscribed to by New York's elite. Conde Nast (1873-1942) bought the magazine in 1909 and began to transform it into a powerhouse.

Vogue delivered beautifully presented, authoritative content under the leadership and watchful eyes of a few talented editors-in-chief. One of the most notable, Edna Woolman Chase, became editor in 1914 and remained at its helm for thirty-eight years, until 1952. Caroline Seebohm, Nast's biographer, credits Chase with introducing new American talents to the fashion audience. Chase gave full coverage to European, and especially Parisian, fashions, but her approach also suggested that American women might exercise a certain independence of taste.

Chase's successor, Jessica Daves, served as editor in chief from 1952 to 1963 and is remembered primarily for her business acumen. She was followed by the flamboyant Diana Vreeland, whose eight-year tenure (19631971) documented "Youthquake," street-influenced youth fashions, and space age and psychedelic fashions. Vreeland's successor was her colleague Grace Mirabella, who served as editor-in-chief from 1971 to 1988. Mirabella was the antithesis of Vreeland; her watchwords for fashion were functionality and affordability. Whereas Vreeland wrote in 1970, "In the evening we go east of the sun and west of the moon—we enter the world of fantasy," Mirabella countered, in 1971, "When you come to evening this year, you do not come to another planet." Mirabella approached the "antifashion" 1970s with a levelheaded stance that addressed a growing constituency of the magazine: the working woman.

Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of the magazine in 1988 and combined a shrewd and appealing mix of high and low. Her first cover for the magazine, in November 1988, featured model Michaela in a jeweled Lacroix jacket—worn with blue jeans.

A controlling interest in Conde Nast Publications was acquired in 1959 by S. I. Newhouse, who subsequently became the sole owner of the corporation. There are now more than twelve editions of Vogue: American, Australian, Brazilian, British, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean. Teen Vogue was launched in 2003. (Nast inaugurated the international editions with British Vogue in 1916 and French Vogue in 1920.)

Nast's original "formula" for Vogue was based on service, which Seebohm translates as disseminating fashion information to his readers as efficiently and clearly as possible. Clarity did not exclude creativity, and the magazine became well known for its own stylish look. Vogue's most famous art and creative directors were M. F. (Mehmed Fehney) Agha, who started at Vogue in 1929, and Alexander Liberman, who joined the staff in 1941.

The magazine has employed the foremost illustrators and photographers of its times. (The first photographic cover appeared in 1932; color printing was introduced in the following year.) Its glossy pages maintain the highest standards for the visual presentation of fashion. Vogue is still the stuff that many dreams are made of.

See also Fashion Editors; Vreeland, Diana. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chase, Edna Woolman, and Ilka Chase. Always in Vogue. New

York: Doubleday and Company, 1954. Daves, Jessica. Ready-Made Miracle. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1967.

Dwight, Eleanor. Diana Vreeland. New York: William Morrow and Company, 2002. Mirabella, Grace. In and Out of Vogue: A Memoir. New York:

Doubleday and Company, 1995. Seebohm, Caroline. The Man Who Was Vogue: The Life and Times of Condé Nast. New York: Viking Penguin, 1962.

Laird Borrelli

VON FURSTENBERG, DIANE Diane von Fursten-berg was born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin in Brussels, Belgium, in 1946. Her introduction to fashion was as an assistant to a photographer and filmmaker's agent in Paris, her first job on leaving the University of Madrid and graduating in economics from the University of Geneva. Familiar with the 1960s jet-set life, she married Prince Egon von Furstenberg in 1969 and moved with him to New York. They were a glamorous couple, luminaries of society columns, and attended celebrity parties and balls. However, in keeping with the burgeoning feminist movement of the early 1970s, and wishing to be financially independent, von Furstenberg realized the significance of women's emergence into the world of work. She capitalized on women's desire for simple, wearable clothes that were flattering but also smart. From 1970 to 1977 she became the owner-designer of the Diane von Furstenberg Studio, which produced easy to wear polyester, cotton, and silk knit dresses in her signature prints. Her iconic wrap dress, however, which first appeared in 1973, established her reputation as the designer of the moment and promoted her name into a worldwide brand.

Von Furstenberg's wrap dress was practical, versatile, and sexy. Manufactured at the Ferretti factory in Italy, the dresses were initially stored and the orders processed in the dining room of her home. Cut to flatter, the dress wrapped in front and tied at the waist and was made from drip-dry cotton jersey. She remembers in her autobiography, "I had no focus groups, no marketing surveys, no plan. All I had was an instinct that women wanted a fashion option beside hippie clothes, bell-bottoms, and stiff pant-suits that hid their femininity."

Tatiana Von Furstenberg Daughter
Diane von Furstenberg. Sexy, flattering, and also easy-to-wear, von Furstenberg's styles responded to women's changing desires and needs in the era of women's liberation.

In 1975 she brought out a scent, Tatiana, named after her daughter. She expanded into home furnishings with The Diane von Furstenberg Style for Living Collection for Sears, and in 1977 she reorganized the company to deal solely with licensees for the fashion line, luggage, scarves, cosmetics, and jewelry. By the end of 1979 the combined retail sales of all the products bearing the von Furstenberg name came to $150 million. The extent of the licensing deals undermined the quality of the brand, however, and she closed her business in 1988.

The 1990s predilection for 1970s fashion meant that the wrap dress achieved cult status and was eagerly sought after from vintage shops. Following her success on the QVC home-shopping channel, von Furstenberg and her daughter-in-law, Alexandra, relaunched the business in 1997 and put the wrap dress back into production, this time in silk jersey with a new range of colors and prints.

Diane von Furstenberg will always be identified with the wrap dress; it typifies the era of women's sexual and political liberation. Its reemergence is evidence of the continuing desire of women for simple, one-stop dressing that is both flattering and versatile.

See also Fashion Designer; Fashion Marketing and Merchandising.


Milbank, Caroline Rennolds. New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style. Harry N. Abrams, 1989.

von Furstenberg, Diane. Diane: A Signature Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Marnie Fogg

VREELAND, DIANA Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) was, and continues to be, an iconic figure in fashion history, whose distinctive personal style and penchant for fantasy influenced her work at Vogue and the exhibitions she organized at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Diana Vreeland was born in Paris in 1903 to Emily Key Hoffman and Frederick Young Dalziel. The Dalziels moved to New York in 1904, where the socially eminent family enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle. According to Vreeland's biographer, she was a vivacious child who was interested in fantasy and the transforming powers of artifice from a very young age. In 1924, Diana married Thomas Reed Vreeland, a socially prominent banker. The couple moved to London in 1929, where they remained until 1933. In London Vreeland started her career in fashion by opening a lingerie shop in the city, and her frequent visits to Paris familiarized her with haute couture. As a patron of designers such as Jean Pa-tou, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, and Main-bocher, Vreeland's flair for dressing, combined with her social standing, made her the subject of commentary in the social pages and in magazines such as American Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Town and Country.

Harper's Bazaar and Vogue

The Vreelands moved back to New York in 1935. Diana began her first job in fashion editorial work at Harper's Bazaar in 1937. She was promoted to the position of fashion editor in 1939, working under editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, and remained at the magazine until 1962. Vreeland first came to the readership's attention with her 1936 column entitled "Why Don't You?" The feature encapsulated her personal belief in the ability of fashion to transform women by offering such extravagant and fantastic suggestions to her readers as "Why don't you ... Turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy dress party?" (August 1936) and "Why don't you own, as does one extremely smart woman, twelve diamond roses of all sizes?"

"Mrs. Vreeland is unquestionably the Madame de Sévigné of fashion's court: witty, brilliant, intensely human, gifted like Madame de Sévigné with a superb flair for anecdotes that she communicates verbally rather than in epistles, Mrs. Vreeland is more of a connoisseur of fashion than anyone I know" (Beaton, p. 359).

"Mrs. Vreeland is unquestionably the Madame de Sévigné of fashion's court: witty, brilliant, intensely human, gifted like Madame de Sévigné with a superb flair for anecdotes that she communicates verbally rather than in epistles, Mrs. Vreeland is more of a connoisseur of fashion than anyone I know" (Beaton, p. 359).

(January 1937) Vreeland honed her editorial skills at Harper's Bazaar by working closely with such photographers as Richard Avedon and Louise Dahl-Wolfe to implement her ideas and transfer her imaginative vision to the fashion pages.

Vreeland became publicly known as the archetypal fashion editor, famous for such proclamations as "Pink is the navy blue of India" (Donovan). Her inimitable persona was further popularized when she was parodied in the 1957 film Funny Face.

In 1962, Vreeland moved to American Vogue as associate editor. In 1963, Sam Newhouse, the owner of Condé Nast, promoted her to editor-in-chief in an effort to re-invigorate the magazine. Having complete control over the look of the magazine, she imbued its pages with her distinctive style and flair for the fantastic. During Vreeland's tenure, the magazine's editorial spreads presented a popular audience with exoticism, aristocratic glamour, and such atypical models (atypical because of their youth, multicultural appearance, and unisex body types) as Veruschka, Penelope Tree, Twiggy, and Lauren Hutton. Vreeland firmly believed that the magazine had the ability to transport the reader, just as clothing had the ability to transform the wearer. The mundane realities of life did not interest her.

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