In 1933 Vogue ran an article about an international trendsetter, extolling her decisive style and statuesque, Pharaoh-like features. The article would prove prophetic, as three decades later the subject would ascend to Editor-in-Chief of that same publication. It was the role Diana Vreeland was born to play and the timing was perfect.

It was the ‘60s, and many attitudes that Mrs. Vreeland had long embraced were coming to the fore: social conventions were being smashed, youth culture was at the heart of the creative revolution, and jet travel meant that the exotic was decidedly in demand. In an era of freedom there was no greater free spirit than Mrs. Vreeland, with her trademark openness to all walks of life, ages, races and ideas. This openness would emblazon Vogue’s editorial pages and extend to every section, truly capturing the Zeitgeist of the times. 

Mrs. Vreeland redefined traditional concepts of beauty, and photographers such as Franco Rubartelli, Irving Penn, David Bailey, Patrick Litchfield, Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon contributed some of their most groundbreaking work. However, her new readers also craved culture, so the remaining pages became a cornucopia of grand ideas and sophistication. 

Mrs. Vreeland’s international sensibility made Vogue a magazine of the world. She shot editorials in far-flung locales and popularized interior coverage with Horst P. Horst, revealing the sumptuous homes of her many fabulous friends. The literary section dictated what and who to read, while the “People are Talking About” column became the authority on cultural trends. 

The Vreeland years were Vogue’s “Golden Years,” and issues from this time remain collector’s items. Under her direction, Vogue became more than just a record of the revolution; it became an engine for it. Mrs. Vreeland had inherited a sleepy social magazine and transformed it into a style and culture must-read, a brand identity Vogue has never lost.

Photographs by: Franco Rubartelli  


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