Dinner with Diana Vreeland, from What Am I Doing Here? by Bruce Chatwin
Her glass of neat vodka sat on the white damask table-cloth. Beyond the smear of lipstick, a twist of lemon floated among the ice-cubes. We were sitting side by side, on a banquette.
‘What are you writing about, Bruce?’
The lower lip shot forward. Her painted cheeks swivelled through an angle of ninety degrees.
‘Whales!’ she said. ‘Blue whales!… Sperrrm whales!… THE WHITE WHALE!’
‘No… no, Diana! Wales! Welsh Wales! The country to the west of England.’
‘Oh! Wales. I DO know Wales. Little grey houses… covered in roses… in the rain…’
She was incomparable, indomitable, unshrinking from one end of her sumptuous life to the other. This quote from director, Elia Kazan, so beautifully summed her up:
The real challenge
is not simply to survive.
Hell, anyone can do that.
It’s to survive as yourself,
Dianna Vreeland, New York, 1980, Harry Benson