Here’s Looking at You, Kid!

27 Sep

An old soul forging a young and beautifully vibrant life moved onto her next big adventure this weekend as Diane Naegel died on Sunday morning. The news turned my stomach and ignited my spirit of Carpe Diem.

Diane Naegel and her fiance, Don Spiro.

To me, Diane is the kind of person who transcends time and circumstances. Always true to herself and endlessly gracious and beautiful with every person.

The knack of leaving a person feeling extraordinary and special is by no means an easy thing, and for Diane it was second nature — never calculated or forced. I was forever jealous of her ability to be so great with everyone.

To me, Diane embodies the epitome of grace, charm and ethereal beauty. At events, I would marvel at how she moved throughout the crowds, mingling with ease — paying mind to each person without rush or distraction — despite her attention being in great demand.

Diane Naegel. (Photo by Don Spiro)

Albeit, peers — with us both being 31 — I looked up to her, admired her and hoped to harness just a drop of her authenticity.

As the publisher of Zelda: A Magazine for the Vintage Nouveau, and producer of the monthly 1920s event, Wit’s End, Diane also worked as a designer with Osh’Kosh.

Her life being full and vibrant, she lived out her passions — not talking about them, rather building her dream as a reality.

Back in April, Diane lent some of her expertise on Rose Marie Reid swimsuits and modeled her own in {the} Thrifty Vintage Chic Swimsuit Edition. Perhaps, you remember meeting her then?

To get a small snapshot of the incredible Diane Naegel and what she means to the community of New York vintage enthusiasts, here is a tribute video.

“Diane passed away suddenly at age 31, Sunday morning, Sept 25th from complications due to breast cancer, which she had been bravely fighting for a year. To all those who knew and loved her, she would want you to be strong, enjoy every bit of life, and be happy celebrating her memory.”
~Don Spiro, fiance of Diane

What’s the Take-Away

Carpe Diem & Share Your Heart Out!

On Saturday evening, I attended the monthly celebration of the great jazz age called, Wit’s End. It is an event created by Diane Naegel and photographer Don Spiro, born out of their love of the era and desire to create a place for like souls to celebrate their passions.

The evening was super special for all of us, it was the belated celebration of Diane and Don’s engagement. (The original date had been cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.)

The Wit's End event poster for Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011.

To see two vintage lovers come together as lovers and partners in life just is a dream come true — something that again sparked my jealousy, as well as inspiration in Diane having found her soul mate.

Like a girl, I couldn’t wait to gush with her about her art deco engagement ring — a couple weeks prior at the Dances of Vice 1950s Prom, I had gotten the scoop on the ring from Don.

Heading to the event, I realized I had forgotten my favorite vintage couple’s engagement gift — and thought, “well, I can send it the old fashioned way”. Upon arriving, my excitement turned to worry when I learned the brilliant couple wasn’t present because Diane was ill and not able to make it out.

Needless to say, it was a dreadful shock to receive a phone call the next morning that Diane had just passed away.

I am still in shock. And my words are at a loss — so forget eloquence, what I am aware of is the fleeting moments of time we all have. How I take it for granted everyday — even just two years after my own serious medical challenge — that tomorrow is not promised to us … and yet, I bank on it — being able to have that conversation, to reschedule that lunch, to fulfill those plans.

Diane inspires me as she always has — living every moment with such joy and without complaint. And to truly be extraordinary in everything that I do.

In closing, some words to my dear friend:

I cannot thank you enough for the life that you gave me, the friends I have because of you and the joy you brought to my world by just simply being in the same room as you. Here’s looking at you, Kid! I love you …

Hugs & Kisses,

{PS} You have my word that I will see to it that our fundraiser is realized as an incredibly successful event marked by making a real difference in the lives of women dealing with medical challenges.


10 Responses to “Here’s Looking at You, Kid!”

  1. Alicia Kachmar September 27, 2011 at 4:57 PM #

    This is so moving. I wrote a long post about her as well–she was an amazing woman that no amount of words could truly describe. What a gem.


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic September 28, 2011 at 8:22 AM #

      Alicia, your blog post is amazing … and you were close! Diane and I spoke (before her diagnosis) about doing an event raising awareness and funds for breast cancer and hair donations … because after being in the hospital for a month and recovering at home for another couple months (from TBI), I know exactly what you mean by: “Those things matter more than you would think, those small bits of control, trying to feel beautiful in the midst of so much ugliness.”

      I saw hair donations as a key to allowing women to feel beautiful and good about themselves so they could better focus on the physical and medical challenges.

      A month later, Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer and we postponed the plan until she had a handle on the treatments, and then the surgery, etc. We spoke about the irony …


      • Alicia Kachmar September 28, 2011 at 10:45 AM #

        TBI…Oh my God! Just from reading this post and looking around your blog, seems like you are yet another inspiring creative soul sister! I sewed my own “official” (wire hole near chest, snaps, etc.) hospital gown for this latest surgery, so that it would be bright and stand out from the usual drab ones! I had told Diane she could borrow it…in the back of my head, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to sew/design pretty hospital gowns!

        Maybe we can still do a similar event that you and Diane discussed? I have already been thinking of donating a portion of my owl soaps w/scarves sales to breast cancer research…owls+ scarves=Diane! I have a lot of connections in the craft/book/mag worlds…sounds like you probably have connections too! Email me!


  2. Dawn September 27, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

    Robin, I am both shocked and sorry. I learned about Diane and her delightful creativity from your blog and loved the bathing suit entry! So very sorry for the loss of her vibrant and creative spirit her on planet earth. Beautiful entry in honor of your friend. My deepest sympathies to Don, Diane’s family and friends and to you, Robin.

    Peace and prayers,
    (a “sistah”)


  3. Sam Altman September 28, 2011 at 7:18 AM #

    As a friend of her parents and knowing Diane as a playmate of my own children, my memories are of years past. To know that she was able to touch so many lives during her journey is inspirational. Your article is an awesome tribute to her. My heart felt thoughts go out to all who knew her.

    To Don, Sarita & Mark & family, the sorrow is felt 10 fold.



  4. anita September 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM #

    Sorry for your loss. I didn’t know your friend but remember the photos you shared of the bathing beauty suit. Diane’s picture had captivated me. How wonderful that you got to know her.


  5. September 30, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    Thanks so much, this is an amazing tribute to Diane, I will always be in awe of her.


  6. Cristina September 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM #

    Beautiful Post about Diane. She was an inspiration, and myself and my family will miss her…


  7. Mark R. Naegel, Diane's Dad January 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    May God bless you all!



  1. Why Duane Reade Is Better than Bloomy’s or Macy’s « Thrifty Vintage Chic - December 20, 2011

    […] was very special for me to see, given my good friend Diane Naegel’s recent death due to complications of breast […]


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