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In Search of Allure: The Quotable Diana Vreeland

In the new foreword for Chronicle Books’ recent reissue of Diana Vreeland’s Allure, fashion designer Marc Jacobs writes, “I think no one has ever been like her. There have been many strong characters, but there’s never been another Diana Vreeland.” The book, which is a collection of images that inspired the famed fashion editor, alongside her commentary, which was tape recorded over the three years it took to put the collection together, gives readers an intimate glimpse into Vreeland’s brilliant mind. Thanks to her bizarre way with words — which her collaborator, Christopher Hemphill, attributes to an early childhood in Paris — it’s a beautiful tome on style that’s also immensely entertaining.

According to Hemphill’s original intro, after settling on the book’s title, Vreeland defined the concept of “allure” as something that holds you. She later amended that statement: “Now I think it’s something around you like a perfume or like a scent. It’s like memory… it pervades.” The photographs gathered in Allure — whether images of Maria Callas or plastic surgery — all have that quality, and are proof of what Jacobs says he loves most about Vreeland: Her appreciation for unconventional beauty and “almost perverse passion for things that weren’t common or typical.” (Or, as he adds conversely, her “passion for something exactly because it was so very common and typical.”) It’s this unique point of view that made her a legend.

Click through for a selection of some of our favorite quotes and images from the book.


Martin Munkacsi, Greta Garbo on vacation, 1932

“If you knew Garbo, if you’d ever been to a Garbo dinner, meaning you’re three or five at the most… but don’t let me go grand on you. I’m only talking about the way she holds her mouth when she’s talking to you. I can’t say what it she does. If could say it, I could do it myself.”

“Never say ‘I’! Always say we.”

“Does anyone read a picture book from the beginning? I don’t. That’s one reason I think the Japanese are so smart — it’s instinctive to start at the end.”

“Everyone is ga-ga on names today. That’s why the paparazzi have taken over. People can’t get over other people.”

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