Friday, March 02, 2012


At last, I scored a second hand edition of Allure to complete my collection of Diana Vreeland books. The others are: Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight, Why Don't You - The Bazaar Years by John Esten, The Eye Has To Travel by Lisa Immordino Vreeland and of course, D.V. by D.V. Is it possible to do a PhD in a person?!

Allure was always the one I was fussy about: I didn't want the new (2010), smaller edition - but I didn't want to pay a fortune for a first edition. Finally after years of intermittent searches I found a second edition of the original large cloth bound book in near perfect condition. And it is large - I'm going to have to buy a bigger coffee table to accommodate it.

The book of 165 black and white images selected by D.V. with her commentary recorded by Christopher Hemphill is quite unnerving to flick through, when you're used to seeing thousands of images a day. Here, some look like photocopies, or are reproduced from paparazzi pictures. How long would 165 images take to scroll through on tumblr - 20 seconds?

The arrival of this book coincided with the arrival of what I've felt as a sea change for me, to do with the  internet and blogging - and primarily about imagery. I feel and really hope that it's going to end up being a positive change.

I could never get into tumblr. I always want to know WHO took the picture, WHERE or WHO is it, what's the story behind it? Pinterest is sometimes better for this, but often you click back and back to find the source, only for it to lead you to a random uncredited tumblr post. It infuriates me so much! It's not even totally to do with the issue of crediting, just that scrolling through an endless stream of imagery, even beautiful inspiring imagery ceases to be that...inspiring.

Of course if the original of any one of those images were put in an empty room on a white wall, it would still have an impact, but - as I joked to a friend this week: haven't we finished filing all the photos of Jane Birkin by now?

The way I choose to see it that it was necessary for people, once suddenly exposed to this huge trove of incredible iconic images on the internet, to catalogue and sort them - to make sense of them. But now it feels as if they're being sorted and re-sorted almost mindlessly. It's like gorging on photos until you overdose. That's how it feels to me anyway, and that's why you won't have seen many external images here - or many images at all lately. I'm obviously re-cleansing my image chakra - ommm.

Imagine Vreeland having to clip out tiny pictures from newspapers that caught her eye and get them blown up bigger for her inspiration board. And many of those enduring images getting re-blogged a million times are from Vreeland's era, or rather reign, at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

(Yep, it was a lot easier for me to pull the below picture from Google Images and at a better resolution than its reproduction in Allure. I still had to look at the book for the credit though, as it was nowhere to be found online.)
Diana Vreeland at Vogue 1966 ©James Karales/Look
As Vreeland says in Allure:
"'s the suggestion of something else. Of course, nowadays, nothing suggests anything - except advertising. We've all seen far too many pictures. I think the visual road has become over-travelled and over-crowded." She said this in 1980 - pre-internet!

I feel that it's time for the internet to go in the direction of producing things that are new, of value and of genuine beauty and originality. Not that no one is doing that at all, but the general, mainstream direction of the bloggy/inspiration part of the internet has to go that way. I feel it's going to happen soon.


Emma. said...

I'm always amazed that the girl I met on my very first day, very first lecture at university became my best friend.
Similarly, it makes me happy to think that I've been reading your blog from the start of my forays into the internet, quite a few years ago. And posts like this one make me want to follow it for many more !

Anonymous said...

thank you for saying this! tumblr drives me nuts. and let's face it, curatorial intent is sorely lacking in the reproduction of these images.

this blogger pop-up window is right next to your "Grumpy" label, and that's how i'm feeling right about now. or what about "curmudgeonly"?

lola is beauty said...

Emma - I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me!

Anon - I'm activating a new label just for you!

charlotte said...

well, you know i agree with you wholeheartedly on all fronts x

random cat said...

that is why i like the blogs i can actually READ (like yours which i read back to the first post).

Anonymous said...

I second all the comments before me - your posts, esp this, make me happy I have been following your blog since its beginnings.

It calls to mind some of the others I have also been following since back then, (2005 is it? SEVEN years?!!) and how the landscape has changed. In the beginning, I thought blogs were a great democratic platform for expression and sharing, it felt so creative and happy-making. Now of course a blog is seen as a core marketing/promo tool and this fey idealistic dream of mine is but a speck of dust in the sun.

I think 'overdose' is just the right word for where things have got to, esp with tumblr etc. Inundated with a massive binge of images and images, where inspiration has turned into pornographic fatigue. Either that or things are just so blatantly commercial, what with product/brand tie-ins and placements etc, that I lose interest immediately.

I like your final lines, and look forward too, to where blogs, and the internet will go to. (It might be miserly of me but I really hope the commercialised cult of the blogger personality will go away, and people will start thinking and doing genuinely interesting things again!)

that said, there are a few blogs that come to mind, that do still surprise and delight. i really like knight cat, who's just come out of her hibernation. somehow, just in her selection of images pulled together, she makes me look at things I've seen a thousand times in a new, unimagined way. the same for queen michelle's tumblr - while it is a tumblr admittedly and I'm often frustrated at not knowing who or where the images are from - her selection is always a lovely result.

(sorry for the long warbling - I'm still in shock that I've been trawling through blogs for seven years... where has my life gone :/)

Ally Ann said...

i completely agree with this. i feel like this thing that we have all created is overwhelming and numbing. very rarely do i feel like anything is original. i'm ready to start feeling wowed again. and i suppose that starts with us!!

Bombay Beauty said...

This is very true. We needed blogs, and the explosion of visual culture and clutter that came with them. But as you say, we've got it out of (or in) our system now, and so it changes our perspective. xo bb

cara said...

amen sister