What makes this documentary, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, so entertaining is that the late Diana Vreeland is an extremely eccentric character and despite the fuzzy interview footage, pulled from  the early 1980’s, you can’t help but become mesmerized by her voice and her overall excitement for life.  The director, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who is Diana’s grandaughter-in-law, uses photo images throughout the film that Vreeland produced as a Columnist for Harper’s Bazaar and later as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, and they are so distinctly original, even by today’s air-brushed standards, that the viewer is left dazzled.

Diana Vreeland wasn’t just a magazine editor but a true artist.  Her photo shoots weren’t advertising, but real art glorified in women’s magazines.  She had a distinct eye for the fascinating and unusual, creating mind-blowing photo spreads of models abstractly posed in front of the Egyptian pyramids, walking the ruins in Rome and even standing with Sumo wrestlers in a snowy field in Japan.

Lauren BacallTwiggyAngelica Huston, and Cher, just to name a few, were her discoveries.  She turned these virtual unknowns into famous models, and later even successful actresses.  The brilliant photographers she worked with over the years all concluded that Vreeland was the real genius behind the scenes.

Becoming a woman during the roaring 20’s and then living in Paris helped to shape her world view and prepared her for the role she was born to play.  Vreeland redefined fashion and always seemed light years ahead of the trends.  She became spiritually reawakened during the London rock explosion of the 1960’s and really put her stamp on the fashion world during the following decade.

Like many powerful women, she was eventually fired from her position as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, after nine years, because her male boss needed someone to blame for poor magazine sales.  Nevermind the change in culture or the other myriad of reasons why Vogue was struggling.  But one thing was for sure, Vreeland’s creativity never waned.

Taking her firing hard, she became depressed and didn’t know what to do with herself.  That was, until the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York came calling.  They asked her to work as a Special Consultant for the Costume Institute.  Again, Vreeland started with nothing and made it into a circus.  She transformed the Costume Institute into a place to go and be seen.  She created 14 exhibitions during her tenure there and made fashion come to life.

A year and a half ago, I visited the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at The Met.  After watching this film, I realized that this exhibit wouldn’t have had the over three hour line just to get in, and had become so crowded that I actually saw a girl pass out from heat stroke, if it weren’t for the dedication, brilliance, and sheer determination of Diana Vreeland in the years prior.

We should all be so lucky to have such a zest for life and for the human image as she did.

  1. Veronica says:

    Great review. Sounds like the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’

    Keep up the good work! Veronica

    Sent from my iPhone

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