Sunday, December 9, 2012

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (Rhoades)

 “Diana Vreeland” Appeals
To More Than Fashionistas

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

In the movie “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” the Patrick Swayze drag queen character hands a copy of Diana Vreeland’s autobiography to a thrift-store clerk and tells him to “commit sections to memory.”
Not bad advice for any budding fashionista.
Vreeland served as fashion editor at both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
I saw her once when she was later working as consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A slender woman with great posture, she was the epitome of her dictum, “If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body and good carriage.”
She helped define fashion of the ‘60s – a period that she termed “Youthquake.”
Her story is told in a documentary – “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” – currently showing at the Tropic Cinema.
Born in Paris in 1903 to an American socialite mother and British father, young Diana Dalziel enjoyed a life of privilege. With the outbreak of World War I, her family moved to New York where they were accepted into high society. However, she remained a party girl until marrying banker Thomas Vreeland.
Joining Harper’s Bazaar in 1937, she wrote a popular column called “Why Don’t You…?” And later, during her nine tumultuous years as editor-in-chief at Vogue, she energized one of the greatest fashion movements of the last 50 years.
Diana Vreeland (1903 to 1989) was sometimes called the High Priestess of Fashion. She set the pace for the Grace Mirbellas and Glenda Baileys and Anna Wintours that followed. People either loved her or hated her.
Directed and produced by her granddaughter-in-law, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, along with Brent-Jorgen Perlmutt and Frédéric Tcheng, this documentary relies on archival film clips to allow Diana Vreeland to tell the story in her own words.
Immordino Vreeland came across her husband’s grandmother’s diaries in a collection at the New York Public Library. “At certain periods, she was talking about the need to stand out,” says the director. “She would write, aged 12: ‘I need to be original.’ She knew she had to do something special.”
And she did. As Immordino Vreeland puts it, “Diana was a feminist without realizing it.”
You’ll encounter many famous faces in this film, from Anjelica Huston to Lauren Hutton. But Vogue’s current editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, who worked for Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, are conspicuously absent. Talley insisted that a well-known fashion scholar interview him, so the directors decided to pass him by. And when he later requested a screener after the movie played Tribeca, “We let him know he could buy a ticket like everybody else.”
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” has been called an “acidic and gossipy cocktail.”
Drink up.

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