The Eye Has to Travel: Sustainable Style Lessons from Diana Vreeland

A new book and film about legendary fashion editor, Diana Vreeland offers lessons in sustainable style.

Part of covering sustainable fashion is exploring opportunities for eco-sound fashion experiences. The idea of developing personal style has very much become polluted by marketers – and indeed modern mainstream fashion editors – who’ve figured out that while the realms of art and aesthetics can be a genuine source of pleasure and empowerment, it’s also an effective technique for getting us to buy more stuff. Yet, a quick look through the society pages proves the old adage still stands true, “Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.”

Diana Vreeland, the legendary Vogue editor and subject of The Eye has to Travel, a newly released book and film (set to open in theaters spring 2012) would be the first person to agree that style can never be achieved simply via an act of consumption, but is a continuously developing form of personal expression that is built organically out of a lifetime’s experience.

Illustrating it’s not what you have, but what you do with it that counts, Diana Vreeland was far from being conventionally beautiful – her mother called her “ugly little monster” – but she transformed herself into a work of art. Together with her boundless passion and curiosity, her flamboyant style was responsible for putting her at the center of New York society for over 30 years.

I highly recommend curling up with a copy of this exquisite book if you can. Filled with essays and over 350 images of Vreeland’s groundbreaking work, the wisdom and vision of this American original has enormous impact today for those who want to live a sustainable life rich in style.

Known for her memorable turn of phrase and incredible aphorisms, her legacy is best found in her own words.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Style: All who have it share one thing – Originality.

The only real elegance is in the mind. If you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.

But you gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.

There’s nothing more boring than narcissism –the tragedy of being totally… me. We’re all capable of it. And we all know examples of it – these beautiful tragedies. Many of them, of course, are mannequins. Mannequins are either divine – or they’re the most boring girls in the world.

Whatever you are going to decide for yourself is going to be the right thing. Don’t get influenced.

Anyone who’s afraid and does not search and give as much as possible to the world of pleasure is a totally ignorant person. We were put here for the joy of it. For the hell of it. And it’s all here now; nothing has been taken away. It’s a question of creating it.

I had a marvelous life – I always stuck to my dreams.



Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.