Singer, actress and model Caroline Vreeland, the great-granddaughter of legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, has forged a singular path by being her uncompromising, daring, sensual self. We caught up with her over a glass of wine at our Santa Monica studio post-lockdown, where Caroline candidly shared about her cathartic creative process, self-confidence, and embodying her great-grandmother’s legacy.
What is your relationship with jewelry?
I’m not really a jewelry person. I only have a few pieces that I wear all the time, like this gold bracelet I’m wearing today, my ĀZLEE engagement ring, and a necklace that says “Vino” in diamonds that I splurged on five years ago. I also love some of my great grandmother’s pieces, like these ivory cuffs and bangles with a silver pin. For earrings, I usually switch between pearls and gold hoops. I like things that can be with me all the time and go with everything. When I love a piece of jewelry, I want to wear it every day. That’s more exciting to me than one crazy pair of earrings I can only wear once in a while. I love that you make things that are extravagant but also wearable.
That’s what we’re interested in, making pieces that are approachable but special.
I like the idea of there being a story behind each piece I own. When it comes to my great grandmother’s pieces, it’s so much more than just a bracelet, it represents her legacy. I love to think my engagement ring will be something that goes on beyond me, it makes it so much more special.
What is your relationship with fashion?
I think fashion should be for everyone to have fun. It shouldn’t be just for the cool crew in Paris. Fashion is a way of taking on a character, an exaggerated version of myself, where I get to try on different sides of my personality. That’s my favorite thing about it. I’m a black-pants-and-sweater kind of person, so I love when I get to be on stage and perform. For one show, my stylist and I recreated an amazing gold lamé dress based on something Marilyn Monroe wore. To work with my glam team to step into that character is so much fun for me.
You’re such a chameleon. I can’t think of anyone who has more range, and yet it always feels like you, no matter what.
I think when you own your choices, in fashion and in life, it comes through beyond the look. When you choose the right things, the right fit, people are going to notice your personality beyond the clothes you’re wearing.I think when you own your choices, in fashion and in life, it comes through beyond the look. When you choose the right things, the right fit, people are going to notice your personality beyond the clothes you’re wearing.
Where do you get that confidence?
Is it so cheesy to say I get a lot of it from DV (Diana Vreeland, Caroline’s great-grandmother)? She was so fearless; she wouldn’t let anyone stand in her way. I grew up hearing all these stories about her and her famous lines: “There’s only one very good life, and it’s the life you want, and you make it yourself,” “Better being vulgar than boring.” The way she invented the word “Pizzazz” and “A sprinkle of bad taste is better than no taste at all.” I always felt that it was part of my DNA, and I asked myself, why can’t I just follow in her footsteps and be like that?
You’ve always been that way.
I don’t know where my love for myself comes from, but I’m grateful for it. Even when people disagree with me, I still love myself. I feel like it’s one of those intangible things I’m really lucky to have. I’m fortunate I can use my voice and have this unabashed, unapologetic feeling about myself. I don’t take it for granted.
How do you not take life or yourself too seriously?
I’m not obsessed with control. I’m ambitious, but I’m not competitive with my peers which definitely helps. I also genuinely don’t care if someone wants to do things a little differently or thinks a little differently. I’m not here to preach to other people. I think this has kept me free. I don’t need to be in control all the time, I can ride the wave and see where things take me.
How do you hold on to yourself through it all?
I just think I’m fun and hot. If I have a crazy pimple, I honor the pimple. If I gain a little weight in my tummy, I love it and find it so feminine. I was just reading a book based in Ancient Egypt where the main character would lay in front of the mirror all day, wearing only jewelry and perfume, and caress herself. That’s me!
It’s so counter to our culture, but so beautiful.
It is, and I try to pass it along as much as I can. I guess my great grandmother did that too. She always wanted the thing that was unique and different to be the thing that was featured. I love that. I had to learn it for myself very early on when I started modeling. I don’t ever want to fit in and be exactly like everyone else. I find that scarier than becoming a new standard of beauty.
What is your relationship with sexuality?
I guess I was born feeling free to own and express my sexuality and not defining myself. In high school, I didn’t necessarily feel gay or bi even though I liked girls. I didn’t identify in any specific way, but I saw there were people who didn’t have a safe place to go and feel accepted, so I started a gay-straight alliance club. I like that sexual and gender identity have become more of a topic of conversation, and less taboo. I think it’s healthy to have open conversations about sex. I once saw a bumper sticker in Berlin that said, “Sex makes you beautiful.” I think there’s nothing truer, seeing someone being able to express themselves freely is such a beautiful thing to watch.
What has your relationship taught you?
Before I met Nico (Nicolas Munn Rico,Vreeland’s now husband), I was dating someone in New York. Someone told me “remember honey, he’s not going to marry a party girl”. I was not willing to change for someone but that remark stuck with me. Then I met Nico and I learned that the right partner would make me feel my most free. He has never made me feel too over the top, that I need to straighten up. That’s love to me. I can’t believe I found him, I feel so lucky.
What is your creative process?
It’s like a therapy session. If someone pisses me off, I need to write about it immediately, put down key phrases and feelings, like a rant. Then I go in and have a session with my producers. I order food, we drink and talk about what’s going on and then we start jamming. One melody on the piano, one melody on the guitar. And we go from there, based on the references I’m inspired by at the moment. Finding the right producer is a huge undertaking in and of itself because you have to really vibe with them. They aren’t a lover, a friend, a family member but you become that intimate with them. It’s a relationship that needs a lot of fostering.When I was working on this album I was staying at my producer’s home in Tampa with his family, hanging out with his kids and having breakfast with his wife. We were in it together.
How have you felt creatively during Covid?
I quarantined in Canada with Nico. When things started opening up again, I felt I should be writing and working on making new music. But I was forcing myself, I thought I should be feeling creative, but I wasn’t. I didn’t feel creative during those six months. I needed to realize that I shouldn’t put pressure on myself, or push myself to use that time wisely. It turns out what I really needed was to give myself a little bit of a break. And now I’m back full-time and loving it.
Photography by DIMANCHE CREATIVE
From top of interview to bottom, Caroline wears: the Pave and Baguette Diamond Hoops, the Large Circle Link Handmade Bracelet with Pave Diamond Link, the Azlee Atelier Emerald and Cadillac Diamond Ring, the Animal Kingdom Signet Coin Ring, the Hera Goddess Amulet Charm in Black Onyx, the Olive Branch and Rose Bud Kite Diamond Coin Charm, the Emerald and Baguette Diamond Earrings, the Tiger’s Eye and Gold Bar Necklace, the Large Gold Bar Necklace, the Empress Diamond Staircase Ring, the All Over Diamond Band