Meet Alexander Vreeland, the creator of the Diana Vreeland Collection and also her grandson. We were lucky enough to have a quick chat with him about the amazing Diana Vreeland, as well as his fragrance line which is available exclusively at Neiman Marcus.
But first, who is Diana Vreeland? She’s a noted columnist and fashion legend who worked at Harper’s Bazaar and later took over as editor-in-chief of Vogue in the 60s. She advised Jackie Kennedy in matters of style and discovered Edie Sedgwick in the 60s. By the 70s she was a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was truly a one of a kind woman.
What was it like to grow up with such a legend?
My father was an American diplomat so we lived all over Europe growing up . So what was fun was that she would come and join us for a week every year or every other year. We had a lot of time together so we did fun things together. I always knew there was something special about her, she was grandma, but she wasn’t like everybody else’s grandma. It just all seemed very natural and she was very inclusive. Me and my brother were naturally integrated into her life, and in the mid 60s after my grandfather died, she would have me or my brother be there to go out with her at night.
What was the biggest thing you learned from her?
I think there’s a lot of people in fashion who are very critical and judgmental of things. My grandmother was extremely positive, she was really out of the school if you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything. So she was tremendously encouraging. She also really knew how to communicate with creative people. She knew how to inspire them and have great ideas for them. Richard Avedon was going to Egypt and before he left all she said to him was think of a young Cleopatra, hot and beautiful. And that was all he needed to go do his pictures. She would find these ideas and they would be the inception of a concept. It was inspiration through creation as opposed through fear. She was very creative and her ideas changed things, she went to Vogue and she changed the magazine, not holding the status quo but really blowing it up.
Because fragrances need a story. They need a dream, they need something where you can feel part of it. Where you can feel transcendent by it and you can be inspired by it. And you can stay up at night and dream about something. My grandmother had those kinds of stories, and I think people can be transcended by something.
Besides your Grandmother what inspired the scents?
First of all I think there’s a movement happening where people are more sophisticated and knowledgeable about their scents and they are spending more money intelligently on what’s going on in fragrances. And I think that is upgrading this zone very significantly. So we’ve been able to work with master perfumers with an unlimited budget at finding the best ingredients that are the most beautiful, long-lasting the most wonderful combinations and creates very beautiful color.
What is the type of woman who wears Diana Vreeland parfum?
We have two customers pretty much. A fashion customer who is inspired by my grandmothers legacy in fashion, are more courageous about trying new things and are looking into what’s happening in fashion. And we also have a very sophisticated fragrance customer who might be a little older both male and female who want beautiful ingredients, high quality, and have an unlimited budget.
Which of the fragrances is your favorite?
The Smashingly Brilliant, which launched in February. It is a lemon bergamot scent. Citrus scents are tricky since they tend to not last. This one has 80% oil so it’ll stay in your skin for a long period of time. It’s also a unisex fragrance.
and some background on each fragrance:
Perfectly Marvelous – Jasmine scent – inspired by Diana Vreeland’s vacations to Tunisia, and was created by a female perfumer.
Extravagance Russe – Created as an ode to Mrs. Vreeland’s two exhibits she did at the MET on Russia. One on a dance movement and the other on the clothes of the people of Russia. It’s an amber, oriental scent. There’s also a candle in the same scent.
Absolutely Vital – It’s a sandalwood. My grandmother used to have a small bottle of sandalwood oil that she would dab behind her ears before going out.
Outrageously Vibrant – Created by master perfumer Carlos Benaim from IFF. It’s a gourmand fruity fragrance, including black current, and patchouli.
Simply Divine – It’s our tuberose scent, and has continuously been the fan favorite.
Will there be more?
I know there will be more! You need to get up to 12 to 15. We’re in no hurry, but you need to be able to cover all areas in your own way. In May we’ll launch our latest – Daringly Different. This is a woodsy scent that is both masculine and feminine.