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Vreelands: Happiness Is Strictly a Matter of Style

October 28, 1985|TIA GINDICK | Times Staff Writer

Tim and Nancy Vreeland--you see their names in the society columns as favorite party guests, or attending a brand-name benefit. Or perhaps on a few select letterheads such as the boards of the Music Center's Amazing Blue Ribbon, Cedars-Sinai Women's Guild, the Costume Council of the County Museum of Art.

There they are in the April issue of House and Garden Magazine, pictured in evening dress in their new 2,600-square-foot condominium with its view of Century City like a cityscape through the trees on their balcony.

'High Achievers'

Or with their friends--people like Andrea and John Van de Kamp, Harry and Maggie Wetzel, Betsy Bloomingdale, Dennis and Terry Stanfill, James Galanos, Esther and Thomas Wachtell, Lynda Palevsky--people who, like them, as Nancy Vreeland says, are all "high achievers."

But also, like them, people associated with--what's that word . . . style. Style. It's one of Nancy Vreeland's favorite words. "Style is making things appear effortless. A gown, a painting, a dinner party. It's a type of fluency.

"No, it's not the same as chic. Chic is more glossy, more superficial. It's easy to be chic at one moment.

"You can have too much chic, but you can never have too much style."

Nancy Stolkin Vreeland, 42, is the former clothing designer turned high-voltage volunteer. Her husband, Tim, 60, is associated with the architectural firm of Albert C. Martin and is a professor of architecture at UCLA. He is also the son of Diana Vreeland, America's Grande Dame of Fashion, the former fashion editor of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and now consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Taste, Elegance

Among People Who Know About These Things, the Vreeland name is to taste, elegance and flair what the Kennedy or Rockefeller names are to politics, what Charles and Diana are to royalty. It's their heritage; it's their destiny; it's akin to a divine duty. Indeed, Nancy Vreeland says, her husband's heritage is "what he's able to bring to Los Angeles in his designs, the sophistication of the buildings that this city is now ready for. And it's exactly what I'm trying to do myself with my involvements downtown."

Place the Vreelands at home, in their living room with the charming little bibelots on the Biedermeier tables; the beige with green and salmon stripe on the Janet Polizzi-designed banquette perfectly matched to the floral chintz used for the sofa; the English library look of the faux-bois finished bookshelves and bar.

Leaning forward on the sofa, her long, narrow body dressed for at-home on a dark gloomy day in a gray cardigan over a man's T-shirt with a denim skirt, knee socks and loafers, Nancy Vreeland pursued the subject.

"Style has very little to do about clothing, material things. It's how you perceive yourself in the whole, how much impact you have on society. There's style like Thoreau, going off into the woods. Everybody has it (style). Style is your personality. It can be obnoxious and abrasive, or it can just as easily be charming."

For herself and her husband, "I think we both have an urban style. Where we are unique in this city is that we're apartment dwellers. We love to pound the pavement.

"Our home . . . I think it's a combination of a touch of drama, but mixed with a great deal of warmth, coziness and relaxation. But also, I have to get back to my definition of style--effortlessness in dress and interior design treatment and entertaining.

"I have a fetish about anything that looks contrived. The nicest compliment when we moved in here came from some friends who said it looked as if we'd been here for years. I don't like to live in a set design, and I don't like to dress for stage entrance. I adore statements in clothing and in everything I do in my life, but it's terribly important not to be overstated."

Married Three Years

Elegantly erect in a Regency side chair, Tim Vreeland listened attentively. He married Nancy Stolkin three years ago. She was raised on the North Shore of Chicago, the daughter of a wealthy financier and his wife, a graduate of Syracuse University who worked for designers Jean Louis, Bill Blass and Seymour Fox before starting her own line of women's ready-to-wear in 1971. He spent his youth traveling, attending schools throughout Europe before receiving his B.A. and M.A. in architecture from Yale University. Upon graduation, he worked for superstar architects Philip Johnson in New York and the late Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia.

In 1965, deciding the changes were occurring out West, Vreeland moved to Albuquerque, N.M., with his first wife and two daughters, now 23 and 24. Three years later, they came to Los Angeles. Nancy Stolkin initially met Vreeland and his first wife through his mother. Vreeland was divorced and his acquaintance with Nancy was later renewed at a party for jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane.

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