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Good Reads | Alexander Vreeland

Interview

Hint Magazine: Alexander Vreeland on His New Book, His Grandmother and Her Vogue Years

Diana-vreeland-vogue-memos-01.3Vogue Memos, a new tome from Rizzoli out next month, has quite a ring to it. One imagines it to have all the scandal and intrigue of, say, the Pentagon Papers — as if some dark fashion-world secret lurks between its pages. Actually, the long title is Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years, which promises less in the way of scandal, but all the intrigue one could hope for.

It's a fascinating compilation of the memos — reprinted in their original form — that Vogue's ten-year editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland sent to her staff and photographers, who included Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, and Richard Avedon. Her official communication with them, these memos were usually dictated by phone from her Park Avenue apartment (she was rarely in the office before noon), typed up by a secretary, annotated further in Vreeland's own hand-writing, and dispatched wherever her team may be.

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Can you walk me through the process of how she made these memos from her Park Avenue pad each morning? Sure. She would call her office and speak to one of her secretaries, as they were called at that time, and she would just dictate the different things that she was thinking about, or things she wanted done, or correspondence to people she was working with. Some memos were just sent to her senior staff and she would never see them again. Others were more like letters. She would be given a folder of these letters that she had already dictated, and she would go through them and mark them up with changes and corrections, but she never had them re-typed. She basically they were sent with her punctuations, underlining, word changes...

[Rizzoli]