“Elegance is important, courage and dignity essential.”
— Diana Vreeland
bulletin board quote
In the final episode, designer Mary McDonald has found herself sans man and is moving back into a house she has owned for a dozen years.
Indecisive and vulnerable, McDonald tackles a remodel of her house — a fresh, new home for a woman in a new set of circumstances.
A camera crew follows McDonald as she unearths her treasures from countless boxes piled in her backyard. “I mean I can hoard, but it has a high-end quality or at least a low-end stylish one, she said.
As rooms in various stages of redesign are filmed, the camera’s eye rested briefly on a painted and somewhat primitive life-size bust idling haphazardly on a mantle. It curiously resembled Diana Vreeland and I thought, how right that this talented designer might prize a piece in the likeness of “the empress of fashion.”
The reveal à la Bravo sped through a remodel that included a bedroom, kitchen and living room.
Strong but lady-like, the McDonald scheme plays many shades of green against reds, which are set off by a background of white floors and walls. The colors are saturated and not unlike the interior of the storied apartment of Diana Vreeland, which Billy Baldwin decorated in “garden from hell” red, Persian flower fabric.
That the spirit of Vreeland may have guided McDonald’s design choices through the years would not surprise me. McDonald is a lover of blue and white, Chinese red, faux bamboo, pagodas — and she accumulates many beautiful objects.
Vreeland was a dragon lady of self presentation and known for her style long before she became a fashion editor in 1936 for Harpers Bazaar, a position she would hold for 25 years before being named the editor-in-chief at Vogue.
The idea of pushing the style envelope rather than just reporting on clothes was novel, and within two years after joining Bazaar, Vreeland was appointed editor.
Vreeland spent the next 24 years revolutionizing the role of fashion editor.
She discovered Lauren Bacall and popularized the thong sandal, the turtleneck sweater and invented the word pizzazz.
For Vreeland, fashion was an expression of innate style, found in every aspect of a woman’s life.
During her tenure with Vogue, Vreeland invented the lifestyle piece, commissioning personality profiles of stylish standouts such as, Doris Duke, Pauline de Rothschild and Marella Agnelli.
She turned the most unusual-looking society girls — Penelope Tree, Marissa Berenson and Loulou de la Falaise — into trendsetters.
“The energy of imagination, deliberation, and invention, which fall into a natural rhythm all one’s own, maintained by innate discipline and a keen sense of pleasure — these are the ingredients of style. And all who have it share one thing: originality,” Vreeland said.
And what became of the Vreeland bust? It lives large on a desk in an office of the newly overhauled home, overshadowing other accents but asserting just how special it is to McDonald.