When Alexander Vreeland set about celebrating the life of his late grandmother - the iconic columnist at US Harper's Bazaar and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue - it seemed fitting to create fragrances in her honour, given her love affair with scent. "My grandmother really believed that our lives should be led with fragrance at all times," he says, adding, "When people describe meeting her for the first time, they talk about walking into her room and all the fragrances that surrounded her." The visionary fashion legend, renowned as an arbiter of style, forged a strong life-long bond with her grandson. He fondly recalls memories of regular lunches at the Vogue office. "There was always ice cream for me," he says. Alexander was inspired to honour her memory with a documentary in 2011 titled The Eye Has to Travel, along with a book titled Diana Vreeland: The Modern Woman: The Bazaar Years 1936-1962. Then, in 2014, he released Diana Vreeland Parfums in memory of her passion for perfume. It's now grown into a collection of 11 scents, each as individual and memorable as the influential woman herself and available at MECCA. He sat down with us to share his fondest memories of Diana.
I think Diana did a pretty good job of leaving a legacy. The interest in her is so broad in terms of age, nationality and careers
The art of making scents
"My late grandmother wore Chanel N°5 and Opium by YSL. When we were creating this collection, I thought, 'If she were 35 today, what would she wear?' We started working with International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) and perfumers to develop scents that tell the story of an icon, who was tremendously empowering to women in her 26 years at Harper's Bazaar and as editor of Vogue at age 60. She was really the first fashion editor to understand the desire of women to live a more independent life, and she always made a statement of confidence. That's what we wanted to imbue in every bottle."
Everyone that met her remembers her fondness for perfume
On her own terms
"We named the perfumes after some of her favourite quotes - quips such as Simply Divine and Devastatingly Chic. It wasn’t enough to have a colourful bottle with a tassel - we wanted her personality and to get away from really descriptive names. I think using her quotes gives the perfumes an authenticity. I think she would love the collection and encourage me to continue doing luxury projects. The perfumers we work with don't have a budget for ingredients they use - we want them to delve into their dreams, to create the perfect scent."
From concept to creation
"There is a wonderful quote that reportedly comes from Picasso. When asked him how long it took to create a painting, he said 40 years, plus two hours. I'm so fortunate to have a background of more than 30 years in fashion and luxury goods, and to be Diana's grandson - none of this is new for me, it's just a question of refining the fragrances. It can take up to two years from the idea to seeing it in-store."
My fondest memories
"I loved walking into her home - it was filled with incense, candles and potpourri; it was a full olfactory experience. She was so passionate about fragrance that she had her own hypodermic needle and injected fragrance into her pillows and cushions. Everyone that met her remembers her fondness for perfume."
Creating a Legacy
"I think Diana did a pretty good job of leaving a legacy. The interest in her is so broad in terms of age, nationality and careers. It isn't just a handful of fashion people who respected her. The former owner of Women's Wear Daily, John Fairchild said there were two important women in fashion during the 20th century: Coco Chanel and Diana Vreeland, that is pretty good company to keep."
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