Monday, 4 August 2014

Diana Vreeland: the fragrance, and the brand



Diana Vreeland is an undeniable force in twentieth-century fashion: if you're interested in magazines, or fashion exhibitions, it's impossible to overlook her influence. I've written about her a few times on this blog, specifically in relation to her 10s, 20s, 30s: Inventive Clothes exhibition and Amanda Mackenzie Stuart's biography, published last year. So I'm more than a little intrigued by the news of Diana Vreeland: The Fragrance, as featured on on Disney Roller Girl last week.

The launch is credited to her grandson, Alexander Vreeland, who was been driving D.V. projects such as the Memos book. As a project, it certainly ticks lots of Diana boxes. She was well-known for her love of scents, Chanel being used to fragrance both the Inventive Clothes exhibition and The Glory of Russian Costume. The bottles "representing aspects of her personality", according to French Vogue, (although disappointingly regular in appearance) are recreated from a 1920s decade, true to her adoration of that decade. They certainly look "divine" - to use a Vreelandism - lined up like that, although at £135 a bottle it's unlikely any - let alone a whole row of them - will end up on my dressing table. The scents themselves sound rich and heavy, instantly conjuring up an image of Vreeland reclining in her red living room.

The names themselves, however, are disappointingly prosaic: Extravagance Russe, Absolutely Vital, Perfectly Marvellous, Outrageously Vibrant and Simply Divine. If you've ever glimpsed at one of her delightfully vague memos, her hilariously obscure "Why Don't You?" columns, or her wonderfully un-museum museum catalogues, I'm sure you'll agree these probably aren't the names she would have picked for herself. With the possible exception of Extravagance Russe, these evoke no mystery, no romance at all. And Vreeland was all about the mystery and the romance, sometimes at the expense of reality.

As the blog post says, this is the first step to create a bigger brand using Diana's legacy. In terms of people to brand, I get this: as her biography shows, no-one was better at creating brand D.V. than D.V. herself. But, given the price point of these perfumes and their marketing, there's obviously a serious amount of money behind this launch, banking on wealthy customers who are going to "get it" and want to buy into the Vreeland legend. And, if it succeeds for perfume, there are obvious products the brand could do next: she was well-known for her love of rouge, and of nail varnish just for starters. Perhaps there could even be an interiors range, certainly a fashion line... (if whoever is behind this launch reads this, hire me! I'm sure I could come up with a few more ideas for you.) I'm so fascinated to discover how this line is received and how it develops.

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