Hero: Diana Vreeland

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A picture of Diana Vreeland in my "Why Don't You?" book. Photo and fingers: Me
A picture of Diana Vreeland in my “Why Don’t You?” book. Photo and fingers: Me

One of my heroes is Diana Vreeland who is counted among the most influential magazine editors of all time. Diana edited the most important fashion magazines in the world: Harper’s Bazaar from 1936-1962, Vogue from 1963-1971. She was fabulous the entire time, and there are many witnesses.

I love the way this woman spoke, walked, behaved. Throughout her time at Harper’s, Vreeland wrote and ran a list called “Why Don’t You?” in every issue. The “Why Don’t You?” list was full of ideas that Vreeland had about how you should approach your closet, your dresser, your very attitude toward life, vis a vis fashion and home decor. The “Why Don’t You” ideas are frequently absurd and it’s kind of hard to tell if Diana was putting these suggestions out in an ironic way or if she was entirely serious about every last one. (See: ermine bathrobe.)

Tonight, a few of my favorite “Why Don’t You” ideas, taken from a short biography called Diana Vreeland: Bazaar Years, by John Esten. I take this book down when I need some air.

Why Don’t You…

turn your old ermine coat into a bathrobe?

wear loose velvet gloves in wonderful colors — the right hand in violet velvet, the left in burgundy? These gloves at the theatre emerging from a beautiful fur cape would be very effective.

waft a big bouquet about like a fairy wand?

wear fruit hats? (currants? cherries?)

use Battersea enamel saltcellers as ashtrays?

have boxes copied after Russian Easter eggs in dull enamel and jewels to keep on your afterdinner coffee tray for saccharine for all those who do not take sugar?

use a gigantic shell instead of a bucket to ice your champagne?

*Readers of Quilty magazine may recognize that I put a “Why Don’t You” list in early issues of the magazine.