The words “legendary” and “icon” could be applied to Diana Vreeland, but then they would be redundant.
As a columnist and editor at Harper’s Bazaar, editor-in-chief of Vogue and special consultant to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute for almost half a century, the onetime Brewster resident not only helped set the fashion tone for American women — including a young first lady named Jacqueline Kennedy — but defined for many women coming of age in publishing what it meant to be an editor.
Her life and legacy are celebrated in the liquid jewels that make up the eight Diana Vreeland Parfums, now available at Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains. The fragrances — housed in jewel-colored rectangular bottles with faceted edges that recall the original vessel for Channel No. 5 and festooned with complementary tassels — evoke different aspects of Vreeland. The best-selling, amethyst-colored Simply Divine is an ode to tuberose, romance and the man who was the great love of her life, her devastatingly handsome hubby, Reed, says Alexandra Vreeland, the 3-year-old company’s marketing associate and Diana’s great-granddaughter. (The company was founded by its president, Alexander Vreeland, Diana’s grandson and Alexandra’s first cousin, once removed.)
The crimson-colored Perfectly Marvelous is redolent of the jasmine groves of Diana’s beloved Tunisian home; Extravagant Russe, an amber tribute to her Met exhibits on Russia. Absolutely Vital contains the sandalwood she always dabbed on, while Outrageously Vibrant plays with cassis, patchouli and rose and Outrageously Brilliant is rich in bergamot and lemon oils.
This past spring, the company added Daringly Different, whose blend of iris and oud recalls Diana’s love of North Africa and the Middle and Far East. “It’s sexy and sensuous,” Alexandra says, and reflects, Alexander adds, the iris trend going on. Recently, they added Devastatingly Chic, a lush blend of carnation, pink pepper, mandarin, patchouli and rose.
With so many to choose from, how to tell which one(s) are right for you?
“You have to like it on your own skin,” Alexander says. “Take it home. Walk around in it.”
A fragrance smells differently on different women and what smells good at one stage in one’s life may not in another, he says. Helping the fragrance to adhere: The company has a velvety body cream that you apply before the scent.
“I think like everything,” Alexander adds, “a great fragrance is about the ingredients, the quality of the ingredients and the quality of the perfumer.”
When he started the company, Alexander took 35 pages of requirements to International Flavors and Fragrances on West 57th Street — “so far west it could be in New Jersey.” There he works with noses Clement Gavarry, Celine Barel, Carlos Benaim and Yves Cassar to create scents that bottle the audacity, independence and inspiration of the woman who wrote the “Why Don’t You?” column for Harper’s and made you feel, Alexander says, that anything is possible.
So why don’t you try Diana Vreeland Parfums?