Diana Vreeland, presumably one of the world’s most emblematic fashion personalities of the 20th century, was editor in chief of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She would later begin working with the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971. During her tenure at the Met, she was known to pump fragrances through the air ducts at her exhibits. In her colorful home, she would even perfume the furniture.
Alexander has an extensive background in luxury goods, dating back 30 years. He worked for Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, and ventured on his own with a the license for Calvin Klein’s Womenswear Division. He was also a consultant for different businesses. When he set to work on the fragrances, he knew exactly what his focus would be. “The two elements of my grandmother that I really wanted to concentrate on were her love of color and her fun with words,” he says. “She had very strong ideas about color. If you take a look at her work, there’s always a lot of color; she was never scared of it. Her living room was red, and her dining room had heavy stripes in yellow, purple and green.” Vreeland looked to International Flavors & Fragrances, and put six perfumers to work right away.
With these five fragrances, Alexander conveys tales of his witty, fun-loving grandmother. Extravagance Russe, an amber blend, recounts Diana’s love of Orientalism. Absolutely Vital, Alexander’s favorite, a sandalwood fragrance that both men and women can wear, showcases Diana‘s love for India. These fragrances, along with Perfectly Marvelous, Simply Divine and Outrageously Vibrant, pay homage to Diana’s knack for words and exuberant personality.
The storytelling in these fragrances extends beyond the scents and amusing names into the packaging. The Fabien Baron-designed colored bottles with tassels in contrasting hues represent Diana’s affinity towards color. The faceted edges allow the bottles to catch light and sparkle, adding a romantic appeal to the joyful bottles.
These fragrances are available in fine stores throughout the US and Europe, and Alexander mentions that the Vreeland fragrance client is someone who loves luxury, beauty and the finest ingredients. Along with the fragrances, a body cream and candle are available. Alexander knows exactly what he’ll be creating next to continue to bring his grandmother’s legacy to newer generations of fashion lovers: A line of lipsticks. He jokes: “And guess what color?” The obvious answer: red, evocative of the bold woman and reminiscent of her dynamic living room.
Alexander’s fondest memory of his grandmother, in fact, takes him back to that vibrant living room. “My fondest memory is sitting around in her apartment, just the two of us. She always listened; she was legitimately interested in my life,” he recalls. “In her mind, it was all more romantic, all more beautiful because she had a romantic vision of life.” ■