Legendary Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland was probably the world's most reliable generator of quotable fashion speak. ("Pink is the navy blue of India," anyone?) And the latest book of her jotted-down thoughts, "Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years" (edited by Alexander Vreeland, Rizzoli, $55), adds to the canon.
If anyone in the style realm comes close to being as quirkily quotable, it's designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose assorted barbs and quips are compiled in "The World According to Karl: The Wit and Wisdom of Karl Lagerfeld" (edited by Sandrine Gulbenkian and Jean-Christophe Napias, Flammarion, $29.95).
The two tomes are quite different. Vreeland's reproduced memos usually touch on the specifics of a photo shoot or topic for the magazine, while Lagerfeld's words have been plucked out of their original context (interviews, documentaries and the like). But the two figures are clearly cut from the same cloth, and their amusing musings begged for a little comparison in a "battle of the bon mots."
Karl Lagerfeld: "Often these days luxury is expensive goodies bought by nobodies who don't have a luxury life."
Diane Vreeland: "Everybody wants to look luxurious today. As the look of poverty is now démodé and makes us sad."
Karl Lagerfeld: "In fashion you always have to break something to make it again, to love what you've hated and hate what you've loved."
Diane Vreeland: "When fashion turns over it brings in little tiny creaks and cracks. That is the fascination and that is where you have to watch every step."
On complaining designers
Karl Lagerfeld: "When you hear designers complaining about the challenge of their profession, you have to say: don't get carried away — it's only dresses."
Diane Vreeland: "Don't give it a second thought what any designer feels about how you have photographed one of their dresses — as all of them kick and complain … Everybody seems to be a frustrated editor!"
Karl Lagerfeld: "No one wants to see curvy models up there. You've got fat mothers sitting in front of the television with their bags of chips and saying thin models are ugly. Fashion is about dreams and illusions."
Diane Vreeland: "In big run-throughs, often there are out-of-shape girls. Short... too badly proportioned to even [be] useful."
On the past
Karl Lagerfeld: "There is nothing worse than bringing up the good old days. To me that's the ultimate acknowledgment of failure."
Diane Vreeland: "We must never, ever copy the past. Never, ever copy any kind of coiffure that is reminiscent of the '30s, '40s, '50s."
On facial features
Karl Lagerfeld: "I would like to have a nose with a bump. It's very chic."
Diane Vreeland: "The strong face is a modern acknowledgment of beauty."
On taking risks
Karl Lagerfeld: "Some people are made to destroy themselves, and I admit that, but I'm made to survive. The survival instinct is my most advanced instinct. I only do the trapeze with a safety net."
Diane Vreeland: "Let's be unsafe … This has suddenly crossed my mind as the way to be. I am not speaking of money in the bank — I am speaking of appearance. Let us go the whole hog … Let us get with it."
On the evolution of beauty
Karl Lagerfeld: "Ugliness has evolved; internal ugliness matters more than external ugliness."
Diane Vreeland: "In my opinion in the year 2001 so many physical problems will have been surmounted that a woman's beauty will be a dream that will be completely obtainable."
Karl Lagerfeld: "Where do I get my energy? EDF (Envy, Desire and Forcefulness)."
Diane Vreeland: "I sincerely believe that energy grows from itself and the more energy you expand the more you create within yourself."
Karl Lagerfeld: "Chanel herself had style, but she wasn't truly elegant — that was her tragedy."
Diane Vreeland: "And there really is no question about it. The old girl really comes across with some good ones from time to time …"
Karl Lagerfeld: "The mink is a very dangerous animal that hates man."