Picks and Pans Review: In and Out of Vogue
by Grace Mirabella
It was Grace Mirabella’s great misfortune to be preceded as editor-in-chief of Vogue by the charismatic Diana Vreeland and superseded by the heat-seeking, publicity-savvy Anna Wintour. (Or as Mirabella refers to her, “a vision of skinniness in sunglasses and Chanel suits.”) In and Out of Vogue seems to have been conceived as a way for Mirabella to set the record straight about her humiliating 1988 dismissal from Vogue (gossip columnist Liz Smith leaked the news on a TV broadcast before Mirabella had gotten the word herself) and about the rather quick demise of the original Mirabella, the magazine that publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch gave her that same year to fashion like a couture suit. But whatever the book’s intentions, it is at bottom the spleenish saga of a woman scorned.
Mirabella, now 66, grew up in New Jersey of modest origins, a point she makes repeatedly, and after a brief career in retailing, she began ascending the Vogue masthead. Grace and the magazine weren’t an obvious match. “I have never liked fashion-y games,” she says several times. But she shows a remarkable fondness for cattiness, particularly about Wintour. When Mirabella is not showing her claws, she is defensive and sanctimonious (she tells of her struggles to bar cigarette ads from Vogue and Mirabella and to address the needs of the modern woman). Those in the know about publishing and its players will find nothing new here. Those outside the loop will have no reason to care about the book’s contents. They may be forgiven for wondering why Mirabella wrote a book when she could have simply kept a diary. (Doubleday, $25)