Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

I recently toddled over to the Angelika Theater on Houston Street to see Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, the wonderful documentary made about the style icon by her granddaughter-in-law Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who published a book by the same name last year and is married to Vreeland's grand son Alexander. This movie is a terrifically entertaining closeup look at one of the great fashion figures of the twentieth century.

Readers of this blog surely know about Diana Vreeland who was the legendary fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar, then the editor-in-chief at Vogue during the Sixties, and when she was fired from Vogue, created at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the Costume Institute as we know it today with her blockbuster exhibits.

What stands out in the documentary is her great drive and work ethic coupled with her imagination and creativity. Growing up, her mother told her she was ugly. In New York City, she lasted at the Brearley School for three months. She was not a great beauty nor was she formerly educated, but she created great beauty and educated herself and thus encouraged her readers and viewers to dream and live more beautiful lives.
She met her handsome husband Reed Vreeland in 1929. Here they are pictured at a cocktail party with the always chic Slim Keith on the left.
Vreeland's great curiosity made her passionate for a wide range of subjects – from the French eighteenth century, Russia, and horses to Diaghilev, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. Angelica Huston in the movie notes that before Vreeland, women's magazines were focused on "how to fit in with your husband and how to make a pie. But who cares about pies...when you have Russia!"

The editor began her job at the Met when she was 70 ("What was I going to do? Retire?") As a boy visiting New York City from upstate I remember a couple of her Costume Exhibit shows, including the Hollywood one, which were astounding displays of fantasy and beauty. Vreeland was a storyteller, this movie says, and she was presenting her version of the way the world could be. "I believe in the dream," she says. "There is only one really good life and that is the life you know you want and you make it yourself." At the end she states, "I shall die very young. Whether I am 70 or 80 or 90, I shall die very young."

What a great inspiration she is. See this movie if you can. Here is the trailer:


Toby Worthington said...

Bart, the film hasn't arrived at our local art cinema
as yet, but I was informed by a friend in London
that the DVD contains nearly an hour of material
which never made it to the finished film as released
in theatres. Something to look forward to, when that
DVD hits these shores!

Bart Boehlert said...

Hi Toby, that is good to know -

Dean Farris said...

Dear Bart,

First of all, I love your blog!
I still have not gotten over seeing "Full Gallop" the play about DV at the Manhattan Theatre Club, many years ago...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting on Ms Vreeland. She was the most incredible influence on a generation (mine). I cannot wait to see this film but I'm sure I will have to get it from Netflix, so few art film make it to my area.

Love your blog!!

Bart Boehlert said...

Hi Dean and Sandra,
Thanks about the blog!
Dean, "Full Gallop" sure was fun, with the wonderful Mary Louise Wilson, who was then great on Broadway in "Grey Gardens".

Pigtown*Design said...

LOVED the movie! I saw it at a Sunday Morning Cinema feature where they had a local fashion writer talking about it. It was such fun.

xo to you both.