I had a plan. Really. Since next week is the beginning of New York Fashion week, I figured we should do someone particularly fashionable. Specifically, I thought we should do Diana Vreeland, the famously offbeat Vogue editor from the 1950s. I thought that this would be so easy, because I’d already read D.V., Diana Vreeland’s autobiography and there are all kinds of great stories about her. My favorite one is probably one about when she was asked why she remained Truman Capote‘s friend after the rest of high society had frozen him out (understandably, as he wrote a pretty nasty collection of short stories about them). Diana replied:
“Every day, I have my maid iron all my money. I like it to lay flat. Whenever I tell people this, everyone says “oh, my, how eccentric. Diana is so eccentric.” When I told Truman this he looked at me and said “oh, my, how wonderful.”
But then, as I was trying to work on this, I kept reading and kind of rolling my eyes and saying “okay, Diana, I get it. You’re whimsical. And frankly, also eccentric. If you don’t want people to think you’re eccentric don’t make your maid iron your money every morning.”
I have come to hate her whimsy. This was unforeseen. Look, Diana Vreeland is incredible, and I have every confidence that I’m going to want to sit around reading every biography about how two weeks from now, but I do not want to right at the moment. Spending 12 hours researching her whimsy and charm doesn’t feel like something I can sink my teeth into at this second. If I write about her, the Shelved Doll will run, “I bet her maid really hated her.”
In fact, as I was reading about Diana Vreeland, I kept finding myself skimming pages about Anna Wintour. Look, I could get really into doing something on her. I think she’s pretty misunderstood. There’s a great unauthorized biography called Front Row that I love, and, unlike a lot of the shelved dolls, there’s a treasure trove of televised interviews with her. But she is 1) not shelved, by any means 2) not dead, which I think was my only rule for shelved dolls, and I wanted something to cling to and 3) possibly litigious if I just begin spreading rumors other people have spread about her in print.
I think number 3 may have a lot to do with the existence of rule 2.
But, I figure if Anna Wintour is cool with this, she’s probably pretty cool with people saying stuff about her in general.
So, I’d really like to do Anna Wintour. But! But I do think there is something to be said for sticking with women whose lives have played out. Although, I think Anna Wintour’s stoy is pretty set at this point. Her obituary will read “Vogue EIC, said to inspire Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, died at…“ unless she decides to become a serial killer. Then her obituary will read “Vogue EIC turned serial killer, said to inspire Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada died at…” There is not much she could do now that would overshadow those things.
However! I’d also be up for doing Lucrezia Borgia. She has nothing to do with Fashion Week, but I’ve been kind of fascinated by her since reading Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire in which Lucrezia Borgia takes on the role of the Evil Queen in the Snow White fairy tale. And there is, of course, The Borgias on television, which kind of bothers me, because I think it does Lucrezia a disservice to paint her as being an innocent young thing and the pawn of her family when she was… quite a piece of work, really. By which I mean “she was really smart and supposedly had a hollow ring which she filled with poison.” If someone tells you you’re a piece of work, that’s what they mean.
So. 16th century legendary female poisoner, who was supposedly pregnant when she annulled her first marriage (strong move!) versus 21st century editrix.
Gird your loins either way.
Oh, and vote.