Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The legendary Diana Vreeland was by no means a great beauty (as she herself would be the first to admit) - but she had style to spare, and perhaps even more important, a keen eye for beauty. She knew how to dress beautifully, how to accessorize beautifully, how to make her surroundings beautiful; it was her great fortune, then, for Diana Vreeland to be blessed with an extraordinarily beautiful family. Her husband, T. Reed Vreeland, had all the masculine elegance of an even more refined Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., while her sons, Tim and Frecky, inherited their father's patrician good looks and their mother's distinctiveness.
Unlike some (many?) women of great style, Diana Vreeland seemed to take great pleasure in her children and grandchildren. She didn't seem to view them as neccessary evils, reminders of her age, or possible blights to her glamour; rather, by all accounts, she was mad for them (if, as was her wont, perhaps a little too doting and...clear about how she wanted their lives to be choreographed), and enjoyed their youthful energy, as the above photo (with son Frecky, grandsons Alexander and Nicky, and daughter-in-law Betty) amply demonstrates. If Mrs. Vreeland had decided to pull an Elsie de Wolfe and taken to the stage, we think she would have made, with apologies to Miss Russell and Miss Lansbury, the perfect Auntie Mame.
In her later years, Mrs. Vreeland became particularly close to Nicky, who was her cohort and confidant. Nicky eventually realized his higher calling and became a Buddhist monk. True to her character, Mrs. Vreeland was at first shocked by the aesthetic changes inherent in Nicky's decision ("But it must be so ugly!" she cried when first told Nicky had shaved his head), but then fascinated by it, and ultimately accepting. As Alexander later commented, Nicky's choices "dealt with great purity, great sincerity. It was a great work ethic, and was all the things she stood for."
Above, the Venerable Nicholas Vreeland poses with his father, Frecky, at a May 2009 exhibit of the younger Vreeland's photography in New York. Style, really, is doing things your own way, and finding beauty in that journey. Mrs. Vreeland, no doubt, would be terribly proud.
The elusive Joe correctly guessed Nicholas as half of our Mystery Guest duo; the other handsome gent is brother Alexander, who followed in his grandmother's footsteps and became an executive in the fashion industry. Special thanks to ElizabethAvedonBlogspot.com, and as always, thank you to our darling Toby Worthington for the initial inspiration.