DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL FILM REVIEW

“Don’t give the people what they want. Give them what they don’t know they want, yet.“  -Diana Vreeland

As the former Fashion Editor for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, the late Diana Vreeland was a key influencer for more than 50 years. Through stock footage, celebrity interviews and footage of Mrs. Vreeland, herself, the new documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel explores the life, loves and legacy of the incomparable tastemaker.

The film’s narration comes courtesy of recorded interviews captured by biographer George Plimpton while he was writing her memoirs.  Early in the film, Mrs. Vreeland recalls how she was, in fact, as a young girl, treated her like an ugly duckling.  She quotes her mother as saying,” Your sister is very beautiful, it’s a shame you’re so ugly.”

In a candid moment, the oft-guarded Mrs. Vreeland reveals that she, in fact never felt good about her looks until she met her husband of 46 years, the stalwart and handsome Reed Vreeland.

When asked how, from this beginning, she managed to cultivate such a stylish life, Mrs. Vreeland quips in the film, “Arrange to be born in Paris and everything falls naturally into place after that.”

 

Through on-camera interviews with her two sons and the likes of model/actress Angelica Huston, filmmaker Joel Schumacher and actress and former assistant Ali McGraw, Mrs. Vreeland is remembered, revered and, in some instances, gently rebuked for her over-the-top creativity and perfectionism.  Designers such as Anna Sui, Calvin Klein, Manolo Blahnik and Carolina Herrera, as well as interview footage from young journalists Jane Pauley and Diane Sawyer, speak to the sheer magnitude of Mrs. Vreeland’s influence in the fashion world.

In a particularly light-hearted moment, Mrs. Vreeland even credits herself – and the lingerie shop she owned and frequented by Wallis Simpson – for the abdication of King Edward due to his scandalous love affair with the aforementioned Mrs. Simpson.

And while she was known for her outrageous embellishments, mentions of her close friendships with both Coco Chanel and Jacqueline Kennedy offer some of the film’s more poignant moments.

In addition to highlighting moments in her life, the documentary explores the anatomy of Mrs. Vreeland’s genius as a cultural purveyor.  Mrs. Vreeland’s greatness as an editor lay in the fact that she understood that fashion didn’t live in a vacuum, and in her feature spreads with Harper’s and Vogue, art, music, and pop culture all seen melding seamlessly together.

“I never learned anything in school, I learned out in the world.” What she lacked in formal education, she more than made up for in imagination.  Known for her unique imagination, vision, larger than life enthusiasm, the film illustrates Mrs. Vreeland’s never-ending curiosity and her love of youth and culture.

From her favorite fashion era, the 1920’s, to the British youth movement of the ‘60’s (and Mick Jagger and “those lips!”), Diana Vreeland imagined life as it could be and life as it should be.

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