Movie Mondays: Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel

Diana Vreeland. Courtesy

I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere.  It was me–projecting to the public.  That was my job.  I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the public.  Give ’em what they never knew they wanted.”  D.V.

I love Diana Vreeland.  She  is an icon.  The movie “Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel” is a wonderful and entertaining portrait that is a must see if you have an interest in fashion, photography, celebrity, beauty or publishing.  She was such a ball of energy and creativity.  Her colleagues and assistants said she was difficult and demanding but I think she had to be to see her avant-garde visions carried out.

You gotta have style.  It helps you get down the stairs.  It helps you get up in the morning.  It’s a way of life.  Without it, you’re nobody.  I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”  D.V.

Vreeland was hired by Carmel Snow at Harper’s Bazaar first as a contributor which evolved into fashion editor of the magazine, and stayed there for 25 years (1937-1962).  She followed this with a stint at Vogue as Editor-in-Chief (1962-1971).  And if that wasn’t enough she was a consultant at the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 until 1986.  The flip side of all this is that she never got a raise while at Harper’s Bazaar and was passed over for a promotion.  Her time at Vogue was cut short because the magazine wasn’t doing so well under her and her expenses for photo shoots weren’t helping.  Fortunately her friends rallied to get her a job at the Costume Institute where she revolutionized the department.

Vogue always did stand for people’s lives.  I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”  D.V.    

The movie was directed by the wife of her grandson Alexander Vreeland, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who has a background in fashion and art, which is evident.  She creates a loving tribute to Diana Vreeland replete with interviews from models, actresses, photographers, fashion designers, former colleagues and her family: Veruschka, China Machado, Penelope Tree, Angelica Huston, Ali McGraw, Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik, Diane von Furstenburg, Kenneth Jay Lane, Tonne Goodman, David Bailey and Ingrid Sischy; in addition to images from her lavish photo shoots from both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika.  We all need a splash of bad taste–it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical.  I think we could use more of it.  No taste is what I’m against.”  D.V.

Her mother wasn’t nice to her.  According to Vreeland she was the “ugly little monster”  as compared to her more attractive sister.  With this challenge I think Vreeland decided to set herself apart which she certainly did.  She directed photographers like Richard Avedon to embrace what some would consider a flaw (Barbra Streisand’s nose) and make it the focal point and elevate it into something memorable.  She created fantastic worlds that had never been seen.

I left the theater feeling inspired and wanting to live life as large as Vreeland did.

You know the greatest thing is passion, without it what have you got?  I mean if you love someone you can love them as much as you can love them but if it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.”  D.V.  

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