A few good books, Favorite things, Inspiration, Quote

Excerpt from Empress of Fashion: A life of Diana Vreeland


As editor in chief Diana felt – and was initially allowed to feel – that she had the freedom to take everything she had ever learned about becoming the Girl, everything of beauty, every fantasy that had ever caught her inner eye, and place it all at the reader’s disposal. As the new editor in chief she ranged backward and forward across half a century of experience. The creative relationship between film actress Audrey Hepburn and the couturier Hubert de Givenchy blazed with the same inspiration that flew between the women of style and their couturiers in the 1930s.

“What fires his imagination races hers; the message he cuts into cloth she beams to the world with the special wit and stylishness of a great star in a role that suits her to perfection.”

“Isn’t that life, darling?”

“You pool all the things of your childhood, and then you become a woman…and you’ve got it all together on your own. But all the while, you’re developing every moment. You develop every moment of your life. Don’t you think that’s how it is?”

To be herself, a woman had to allow herself to dream – dreaming of becoming the heroine of her own life. This was the theme to which Diana would return over and over again throughout her time at Vogue; and soon she took the reins, she extended the idea of becoming a heroine to women who were not born beautiful and did not conform to contemporary ideas of prettiness.

By 1964, Diana was actively challenging conventional American ideas of female beauty, asking Vogue’s readers to look instead at women with vital, distinctive, alluring faces. On August 1st, 1964 Diana turned over most of the magazines to two new prototypes, the “Chicerino” and the “Funny Girl”. The “Chicerino” was “full of zest of doing things”. She had “the vividly personal quality” of a girl who liked herself, who expected the best of herself and the best of everything, a girl with a “star quality”. As Diana put it:

“The image she presents is of her own, intensely personal manufacture – a projected vision of herself, nourished by intuition, by ego, and by single-minded clarity of her thinking. Her presentation is perfect: she comes in a blaze of certainty, engages all interest, sustains it, provokes. Unhesitatingly she chooses what’s good for her – the gesture, the look that conveys her mood, her quality, her special dash. No other fashion counts..the Chicerino is every country’s phenomenon: she is the girl who owns the world, makes it swing..the girl who holds onto her personality with both hands and projects it with style.”

“There’s only one thing in life – and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.”


She inspires me on so many level and in her recent TEDxAthens talk, Mary explores the dichotomy between thinking and doing and what this means in the creative industry. Here are some excepts which hit the chord with me. I hope her talk inspires you as much as she inspired me.

Theme: ‘The Ones Who Do’

“What is the opposite of doing, it is people who think. And I think the world is divided to people who think, and people who do.”

“..there was a time when something shifted. I want to see if I was good enough to be creative and that’s something I want to pursue.”

“You’ll never know you’re good enough, Mary, if you don’t go out and try. And you’ll never know the distance you need to travel to find your glass ceiling, even break that ceiling if you never give a 100%.

“I then on set benchmarks from that point on and gather affirmation that I needed or stamp of approval that would allow me to take my work to the next level – and the next level.”

“I was like a lot of people, I did a lot of thinking but not a lot of trying, and a lot of thinking but not enough doing and I decided to make a change..”

“I applied to Rhode (Island School of Design) because of the notion that it is difficult to get it to do design. So it was a little bit about myself and to prove to myself that I am of that caliber.”

“I was ready to be a doer, I was not in the frozen state, abstract perfectionist and I wanted to try myself (by apply to Central St. Martins). I felt I had a lot to prove.”

“I hit the brick wall – I didn’t have the technical ability to materialize all the ideas I had in my mind and I had to self-teach myself – it was all about screen-printing and digital printing was such a taboo.”

“In my mind, I was challenging myself to define me as a designer..(on decided her final project would be a fashion collection for her BA as she was familiar with interior design)”

“For the first time, I allow myself to dream that I could get it (to Central St Martins) and I decided to go there because it would be a challenge that I need to prove myself that I pursued fashion, I could do it in such a competitive industry.

“She such a harsh critique so I felt she can really channel my creativity and she can really filter through and I can know for the first time if I’m good enough.

“I devour every fashion magazine I can find in front of me because it was important for me to catch up to two centuries of fashion I knew nothing about because here I was being with people who knew they wanted to be a designer since the age of 10 who has fashion degree under their belt. That information allowed me to train my eye, to have a bit more strength in my conviction and it allowed me to morph my aesthetic as well because I feel an aesthetic is an elusive term and it does get more from the environment you’re in.

“I had all this training being brought up in Greece and my analytical thinking and I could look up my work and imagine what that could do. But I never had that educational system before, that gives you no real guide, but also no real barrier, so you can be as creative as that.

“I felt another shift, I had become prolific – and it had nothing to do with having anymore that train of thought that I needed a perfectly executed plan because that will never be applicable in design. I was churning out all these work and wanted to show my tutors to see if they felt there’s a spark that could be remarkable. And I saw myself for the first time questioning, “Why not me? I am here”, doing all this and putting myself against the closest place into being in the industry. “Why not me? Why can’t I start my own business? Why can’t I become a fashion designer?”.

“I became obsess, which became my third benchmark which was getting into the MA show.”

“Mary, this is the worst time to open your own business – the recession, it is really dangerous to do that. But I knew I didn’t have the flexibility to think about it anymore and that was the time I had to go into it really naively and I did. And then reality kinda hit, I was really getting into this – and I became everything, my own accountant, sales manager, production manager. I was working 20 hours and I still do. When system failure is down – my hard-drive was a 100% Greek. My thinking, the way I was morphed was 100% Greek.”

“You need to do, and after you do, you allow the thought process to help you evolve as a designer and I think it’s really beautiful about that, that I opened myself to the unexpected. And there’s something beautiful of putting your work out there in the world because it creates a dialogue. You can be morphed by the perception others have of you. And what’s even more beautiful, people want to join you in that journey, people want to help you do.”

“I find it is okay to be insecure, it’s okay to be fearful because you’re using that as a drive to create something new and you need to have that fear in order to push yourself and the boundary of fashion and remain relevant.”

“Of course she doesn’t believe in herself. She’s a creative and being a creative – and being a creative means to be able to be inquisitive, and doubt yourself and doubt everything around you, because what you’re creating is going to shape function, aesthetic, and you need to be doubtful of that because it’s not safe.”

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the who is less talented as a consolation prize.”

“Just do.”

A few good books, Favorite things, Inspiration, Quote

Grace: A Memoir


The Vogue creative director, Grace Coddington is a true one of a kind: from her signature flame-colored hair to her championing of non-cookie-cutter beauty, she put distinctive fingerprint on everything she does. 

The memoir takes her readers through her impressive fashion career and personal lives, from her childhood memories to her first day on the job both a model and fashion to editor to her big loves (men and cats), early days as a model to her current tenure at Vogue – including her close relationship with Anna Wintour.  

Fore more than four decades, Coddington – a onetime model turned master stylist – has collaborated with the best photographers, hair and make up artist in the business to create amazing picture on the page. This maybe the first time I am reading about her – and yet, I recognize her work I’ve read from the magazines. She is shy and loves to work behind-the-scenes. 

Coddington has also great talent for illustration which is showcased in the book. She is well-known for sketching looks as they come down the runway from her front-row perch during fashion week – and in her memoir, the remarkable, hand-drawn pictures reveal yet another dimension to an already famously fascinating woman. But her drawings take on a personal and often humorous tone.  



Grace Coddington back in her modeling days sporting the famous Five Point Cut invented by Vidal Sasson. 





Grace Coddington

“Is fashion art? I think it’s sometimes very creative but I’m not sure I would call it art, that’s pushing it a bit. In fashion photography, rule number one is to make the picture beautiful and lyrical or provocative and intellectual – but you still have to see the dress. Of course, I like to push the boundaries; I think that’s the most interesting element much of the time. when you walk the line. But you can’t forget to show the clothes and, in the end, not alter them beyond recognition; to pretend a dress is something it is not unfair to the reader, too.” 

Beautiful, funny and so inspiring, this one is for the required reading list. And I have acquired so much inspiration from her. 



Favorite things, In a Day, Inspiration

Happy ending first

When we tell stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problem was impossible. Instead, we skip straight to the breakthrough. We tell the happy ending first. The danger of this scenario is that the act of feeling frustrated is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer – before we can even know the question – we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost. Because it’s only after we stop searching that an answer may arrive.

Brain Pickings