DIANNE B STORE
Dianne always liked to do things her own way and this characteristic has manifested itself in her life, her homes, her career and in her gardens. Her fashion era spanned the 70s, 80s, inched into the 90s and was filled with firsts. This image is the 5000 square foot concrete Comme des Garcons store opened in 1983. It was her third store: the first Dianne B on Madison Avenue in 1976, the second Dianne B in a primitive SoHo in 1982 — when SoHo was nothing but artists’ lofts and galleries — and the overambitious Dianne B Men + Women in 1986. Her stores each caused quite a stir. Art + Fashion did not mix as freely then as it does today. Comme des Garcons and Rei Kawakubo being recognized at The Met with a one-woman exhibit happened 34 years later.
WITH BILL CUNNINGHAM
Bill Cunningham epitomized fashion in New York and was always there for Dianne: when she wafted in and out of Henri Bendel on 57th Street (her first big New York City job), in front of her Dianne B. stores on Saturdays, as well as at the Benefits she put her hand in The Hamptons. First at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, where she served on the board for 20 years during the exciting building of the Center. In the 21st Century — LongHouse Reserve which has become her cause celebre. This photo was taken at the LongHouse Summer Gala in 2012.
PORTRAIT BY ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE
Aside from building architecturally arresting spaces and championing a world of then new designers — like Jean Paul Gaultier, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Rei Kawakubo and most strikingly, Issey Miyake — Dianne didn’t really see the difference between art and life. She commissioned artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, David Wojnarowicz, Peter Hujar and Cindy Sherman to represent her ‘brand’, both in the collections she designed for her then-husband’s firm, Cygne Design and in her stores. This portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe is Dianne in a coat by Castelbajac that appeared in Andy Warhol's Interview.
Her attitude hasn’t changed much as her life progressed. She joined the Board of LongHouse Reserve at the turn of the then-new century and became its first President in 2008. In this exhilarating 16 acre arts compound and educational foundation, she exercises much of her creative energy in helping to fashion the enduring legacy of an incredibly ingenious man, Jack Lenor Larsen. He dreamed up LongHouse to create an active and breathing example of living with art in all its forms.
After serving as the Board leader for 15 great years, Dianne is now its first President Emerita and has assumed the role of Arts Committee and Benefit Chair. The gardens are now open to the public five days a week, nine months of the year and the house will eventually be open to the public as well.
On December 23, 2020, the esteemed Jack Lenor Larsen closed down the brilliant arc of his long and
well-lived life. It has been an honor to be a Trustee of his gift to the community and the world, carrying
on his philosophies and sense of beauty through LongHouse, which has never looked more beautiful and is alive with his spirit.
Sunday was always his sacrosanct private day to swim naked or do whatever he pleased; but now Sunday is our most popular open day.
Do go to our refreshed site and reserve your spot www.longhouse.org.
HOME + FAMILY
Another blessed aspect of life is the divine location in which she lives and gardens. Her wife (since 2020, together much longer) Lys Marigold chose this precious spot in the early 90's, Dianne arrived in 2004. They love the world they live in, and in 2017, marched to keep it that way.
An absolutely prolific acre — once farmland with very rich dirt — boasts majestic trees that include a breathtaking magnolia, now the centerpiece of the moss garden. The setting is wedged exactly between the East Hampton Nature Trail and a meticulously kept private apple orchard, as well as in breathing distance of the ocean and only several strides from East Hampton Village Main Street. Lys serves on the Board of the East Hampton Historical Society, while Dianne is a member of the Architectural Review Board of the Town of East Hampton, which incorporates Montauk, Springs, Wainscott and Amagansett. They are both devoted members of St. Luke’s Church, serving as Eucharistic Ministers with Lys also the Church Historian, having written its history in her book, God Is Love.
Daughter Skye has embarked on a business career and lives happily married in Manhattan, Stepsons Marc and Charles have retired! to live the good life in San Francisco and Glen Ellen, while Wendy is ensconced in Miami. Dianne and Lys share the hallowed acre with their two adored rescue mutts: Vita and Violet.
THE EAST HAMPTON NATURE TRAIL
Occupying 24 acres of prime Village land, some of the most valuable in the nation, is the unmanicured habitat known as The Nature Trail. Home to a multitude of Mallards and Wood Ducks, Geese and neighborhood Swans — bringing children to feed the ducks is an East Hampton tradition passed down through generations. This unlikely oasis is preserved by the Village, the Garden Club and the LVIS, which is the remarkable Ladies Village Improvement Society that has kept East Hampton beautiful since 1895. Dianne relishes her role as the LVIS Nature Trail Committee Chair.
LOVER OF SHAKESPEARE
Living in East Hampton is rich with opportunity. Dianne engages in the life of the Village in many ways. Having never really abandoned her first love of acting (she was a Theatre major in college), she was thrilled when the Round Table Theatre Company was formed in 2012. She has appeared as the First Witch in a fantastic production of Macbeth at LTV Studios and several years later, was delighted to be Gertrude in an intense Hamlet that was presented at Guild Hall, with Tristan Vaughan as Hamlet.
Dianne's passion for gardening began more than thirty years ago when she was faced with “a house in the country” on an acre that had hardly ever been touched. What started as a weedy, woody tangle was gradually and passionately turned into a garden-tour-worthy shady exotic acre. The details of her starting with virtually no garden knowledge were documented in DIRT: The Lowdown on Growing a Garden with Style, an inimitable gardening book/memoir that has become a sort-of gardening cult classic. Dianne loves to write and was for years the highly-irreverent, though immensely practical Garden Pundit for Hamptons Cottages and Gardens Magazine. She now writes and photographs for this blog, DIRTIER, thinking it the basis for her next book. Her unique artistic gardening vision, as well as her dramatic decorating style, has been editorialized countless times.
Her Davids Lane garden is often open for local organizations and other interested gardeners plus every year is a part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program.