June 11, 1984 12:00 PM

by Diana Vreeland

Vreeland, now in her early 80s, remembers what Josephine Baker wore in Paris in the mid-’20s and what she herself wore to New York speakeasies during Prohibition. She raves about the King of Spain, about a brothel in Marseilles, about visiting an ether addict in Tunisia and about sitting on a lawn in Brewster, N.Y. with her baby, chatting with her husband’s bootlegger while Lindbergh was over the Atlantic on his way to Paris. She tells us that Queen Mary wore nothing while her masseur, Joseph, worked on her, and she remembers touring the Duke of Windsor’s bathroom, in which the tub was covered with a board and stacks of papers. “Surfing would be the most beautiful thing in the world to do,” she thinks at one point. Vreeland had a banker husband and has two grown sons, but her real interest has always been style: in clothing, exotic makeup, outrageous behavior. She was an editor at Harper’s Bazaar and then editor-in-chief of Vogue. More recently she has put together fashion exhibits for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This autobiography, edited by George Plimpton and Christopher Hemphill, is a prolonged gush of words—”divine” is a favorite. It’s full of trendy names (Jack Nicholson, Swifty Lazar, Andy Warhol), chat about clothes and sweeping generalizations (“Every girl in the world should have geisha training”). It is a nervous, racing and quite diverting account of a life that has been spent in full pursuit of the trivial. (Knopf, $15.95)

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