Chic, Famous Remember Vogue's Diana Vreeland

"She was the most fascinating woman I ever knew," said Bill Blass.

"She could recolor the world with whatever she said or did," said London designer, Zandra Rhodes.

"There was no one else like her," said Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

All three came to honor Diana Vreeland, along with some 450 other invited guests, at a memorial service at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday.

Vreeland, who died on Aug. 22, had been the special consultant to the museum's Costume Institute since 1972, where she was responsible for annual fashion exhibitions--including "The World of Balenciaga," "La Belle Epoch," and "Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design"--that broke museum attendance records. Previously she earned the unofficial title of "High Priestess of American Fashion," during her years as fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar from 1937 to 1968, and editor in chief of Vogue from 1968 to 1972.

Speakers at the service included her son Thomas R. Vreeland of Beverly Hills, who recalled his childhood at home where, "mother took rumba lessons and Charlie Chaplin came to dinner."

Yves Saint Laurent chairman Pierre Berge described her as "from the breed of women who grasp destiny by the throat and oblige it to submit." Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello praised the work she did "with eclat and an uncanny sense of drama."

Oscar de la Renta, who often had her to his vacation home in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, recalled her daily visits to a local pharmacy, where crowds would gather to see what fantastic outfit she would wear.

George Plimpton, a founder of the Paris Review, who helped her edit her memoir "D.V.", read from it, about the life that was "an exotic fantasy--a great adventure."

Socialite and gardening columnist, C. Z. Guest, a longtime friend, remembered how she frequently mused about Vreeland, "Is there any fascinating person on Earth she doesn't know?"

Fashion photographer Richard Avedon, whose very first assignment from Vreeland came during her days at Harper's Bazaar, remembered how she insisted on calling him Aberdeen at their first meeting. "The photographer's job was to put into action the amazing gala of her imagination," he noted.

Along with the speakers, other designers who attended the tribute in the museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall, were designers Donna Karan, Carla Fendi, Issey Miyake, Diane Von Furstenberg, Mary McFadden, Carolyne Roehm, Paloma Picasso, Mary Ann Restivo, Donald Brooks and Kenneth Jay Lane.

Also attending were former CBS chairman Willam Paley, Lauren Bacall, Peter and Brooke Hayward Duchin, Gale Hayman, Fran Leibowitz, Mrs. William F. Buckley, Mirabella magazine editor Grace Mirabella, and Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, who arrived with Conde Nast chairman Samuel I. Newhouse and editorial director Alexander Liberman.

Attesting to Mrs. Vreeland's legendary eclectic taste were the music selections for the service's prelude: works by Schubert, Mahler and Puccini, as well as the recorded voice of Josephine Baker singing "J'ai Deux Amours" and Mick Jagger singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

In honor of Vreeland, the museum is establishing the Diana Vreeland Fund for Exhibitions, whose income will be used to sponsor exhibitions and related publications of the Costume Institute.

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