Eccentricity does not eclipse good taste. In fact, that is what is truly alluring. That is the heart of the message of Allure (Chronicle Books, $35) by the late former Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland. Vreeland is a key fashion icon - and one of my favorites -because she made red - Think Phillies' red as in Go Phillies! - a very "it" color. Vreeland was known for the red rooms in her home. She's probably the reason behind the red-bottomed Louboutins (But I digress) Anyway, Chronicle Books reprinted Vreeland's 1980 book in hardcover with a rich, nicely-written forward by Marc Jacobs. In two pages, Jacobs captured the essence of Vreeland when he writes:
"I could be totally wrong about this - but I don't believe she was a very linear thinker. I think she was probably turned on by and inspired by many different things. And since I'm also a nonlinear thinker, I can understand that. I understand why one picture is next to the other and I understand why they're all included and why they're all valid in one book from this woman. I think she trusted herself. To have that kind of trust was not just a whim, but a true impulse born of her sensibility. It's so unapologetic. There's nothing that requires an explanation. The reason these images are all alluring is because she believed them to be."
That said it's kind of cool looking through the book seeing Vreeland's idea of luxury, pop culture and high fashion. Vreeland, who was born in 1904 and died in 1989 has a sensibility that predates our millennium paparazzi so the photographs she picked were probably only seen in this book. There seem to be a lot of pics of the Baron de Meyer in tailored flapper styles of the 1920s and black and white stills by revered fashion photographer Richard Avedon. But there are pics of Fred Astaire and Mic Jagger and Marilyn Monroe.
The book - with its striking red hard cover - will appeal to those of us who enjoy what role fashion played in the lives of dignitaries of yesteryear. We must remember, however, these are her visions of aspiration, not ours. In that vein, we can appreciate some of the history of the early 20th century fashion and understand Vreeland's logic. "We musn't be afraid of snobbism and absurdity," she writes in the original forward, "And we mustn't be afraid of luxury - there are no pictures of poverty in this book."