Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
Film Review by Kam Williams
Reverential Retrospective Takes Fond Look at Life of Legendary Fashion Icon
Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) was lucky enough to enjoy not just a second, but a third act in the public eye. First, the legendary fashion icon had a profound impact on American culture as the fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar.
Then, when she was passed over for a promotion after a quarter-century with the magazine, Vreeland resigned in 1962 to become editor-in-chief of Vogue, a position she held for close to a decade. And finally, in 1971, she began serving as costume consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
Co-directed by granddaughter-in-law Lisa Immordino Vreeland with Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt and Frederic Tcheng, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is a reverential retrospective which takes an intimate, intriguing and revealing look at a most-fascinating life. For, over the course of her career, the influential Empress of Fashion undeniably ignited innumerable popular trends while simultaneously celebrating the unconventional features of celebrities like Twiggy, Cher and Barbra Streisand.
Vreeland’s unorthodox approach was to magnify, rather than hide a subject’s supposed flaws, such as when she had photographer Richard Avedon shoot Streisand’s proud nose in profile. This appreciation ostensibly emanated from her having been treated as the ugly duckling by a mother who was not above flirting with her boyfriends.
A socialite who hung out in Harlem, Diana did eventually land a loyal life mate in Thomas Vreeland, and the two went on to wed and enjoy an enduring union blessed by the births of two sons. Despite being an intimidating taskmaster at the office, Vreeland is nonetheless remembered just as much for her creativity by former employees like the aforementioned Avedon as well as actress Ali McGraw who landed her first job out of college with the demanding doyenne.
This enlightening documentary paints an indelible picture of a daring visionary who fervently felt that, “You’re not supposed to give people what they want, but what they don’t yet know they want.” That helps explain how towards the end of her life Diana announced, “I shall die young, even at 90.”
A poignant portrait of an inveterate iconoclast who couldn’t help but push the envelope.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for nude images.
In English, French and Italian with subtitles
Running time: 86 minutes
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
To see a trailer for Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, visit: