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Before there was American Vogue’s September Issue, there was the December Issue. “I think I am more proud of the December issues than anything else because I worked on them sometimes for as much as two years,” Diana Vreeland explained. 

Mrs. Vreeland’s highly anticipated December issues of Vogue in the ‘60s were the absolute antithesis of Vogue’s unwieldy September issues of today: where the latter is bloated with huge sections devoted only to advertising, the former was replete with eye-popping editorials that celebrated the “Wonders of the World.”  Jet travel had made the world accessible in a way that had never existed before and the December issues were peppered with journeys to exotic lands. Readers were transported to the deserts of Turkey, and to the most magical locales in India, Mexico, Sicily and beyond. There were other flights of fancy as well: Lord Snowdon’s photos of gorgeous Arabian horses (Mrs. Vreeland often fantasized about being a racehorse), and the mesmerizing charisma of The Beatles and Catherine Deneuve in their prime, to name a few.

Legendary lensman Irving Penn always made a significant contribution to the December issues. He used his camera to transform his subjects into a lavish painting—as he did with arrangements of poppy flowers for the 1969 issue—giving them a visual rhythm and depth that only he could create.

Susan Train, the Paris Fashion Editor of Vogue at the time, recalls her work on the December issues with great fondness. “It was Diana’s idea to make the December issue a really extraordinary, unusual feast for the eyes,” she reminisces. “With two mannequins and huge amounts of clothes, we would spend three weeks photographing twenty pages or twenty-four pages and it would be the big story of the December issue.” 

Mrs. Vreeland put it most succinctly: “I do remember everything attractive that I could think of in the world we would put into that magazine for December.”

Image: December 1968, Photographed by: Richard Avedon
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel PG 214-215 


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