Going The Distance: Diana Vreeland’s Hokkaido, Japan 1966 Editorial

1966 marked the period of uncharted territory in both politics, music, art and fashion. At the time, Diana Vreeland—the queen of excess—was editor in chief of Vogue—and with longtime friend and photographer, Richard Avedon conceptualized one of the most wildly brilliant and strikingly beautiful fashion editorials, quite possibly of all time.

The mission at hand, was to travel to Hokkaido, Japan in the snowy alps with supermodel, Veruschka and shoot a fashion story—that highlighted the beauty of the blinding white snow, while showing the very wonder and beauty of furs—in an editorial that has seemingly transcended the test of time.

“The Great Fur Caravan” was a winter fantasy and took up twenty-six pages in the October 1966 issue. Upon arriving, in Japan’s misty mountains the crew came equipped with fifteen trunks of clothes—fur of course—and a twenty foot wig, Vreeland had requested herself.

Once the stage was set, with crew members including: editor Polly Mellen and photographer, Richard Avedon—Miss Vreeland’s limitless love story began to unfold in the snow covered hills. Veruschka—a traveling woman—boarded a train dressed for the cold, in nothing but furs—her journey awaited. As she arrived to her destination, she fell in love with a gentle, handsome Japanese man. When comprising this fantastical feature, Vreeland searched high-and-low to find a Japanese man that would be taller than Veruscha who was a whopping, 6’3”.

Image after image, Avedon photographed the simplistic beauty of nature and the fantastical element of falling in love in a far-off place. Vreeland thought of every detail and nuance, including: what it would feel like for a women on a quest of solitude or in search of finding her true self. She thought of what she would wear and how a woman would walk through the snow and would ultimately meet a gentle, kind man to guide her—dressed in opulent furs to shield her from the drifting snow.

In today’s world, shoots of this magnitude don’t exist. Diana Vreeland was the first of her kind to push the limits and boundaries, by creating insensible and boundless portrayals of how fashion can truly be interpreted—and through every image her legacy lives on.

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