Review

Documentary celebrates the life of fashion editor Diana Vreeland

Philadelphia InquirerNovember 8, 2012 

Diana Vreeland in Vogue Office from the documentary "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel."

COURTESY OF JAMES KARALES

  • Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel A Cast: Diana Vreeland Director: Lisa Immordino Vreeland Website: www.dianavreeland-film.com Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes Rating: PG-13 (some nude images) Theaters Chapel Hill: Chelsea.

Call it instinct, call it intuition or some innate talent for defining beauty and style. Or just call it Vreeland.

Diana Vreeland, the fashion editor, society icon and cultural arbiter, embodied confidence and coolness. Her visionary approach to editing – Vreeland had her hands on the pages and page design at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue for five decades, beginning in the late 1930s – changed the course of both magazines and inspired their readers. Readers who could afford the clothes and shoes and jewels, and the many, many more who could only dream.

Bringing dreams to life was what she was about.

Vreeland, who died in 1989 at 86, comes alive herself in the wonderfully illuminating documentary “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.” With a lengthy interview session with her friend George Plimpton as the film’s narrative spine, Vreeland emerges not only as a woman who embraced couture and culture, but also as someone whose philosophy was built on independent thinking and a recognition of the transformative power of beauty and art.

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (a granddaughter-in-law), “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” also boasts interviews with designers (Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta), models (Veruschka, Polly Tree) and photographers (Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman). Ali MacGraw, who came straight out of college to be Vreeland’s assistant, recalls (amusingly) her boss’ rigorous working methods.

And Vreeland’s knack for discovering new faces and trends is remembered. This is the woman who brought the 18-year-old model, Lauren Bacall, to the world, who counseled Jackie Kennedy on her wardrobe, who hired Twiggy, who hobnobbed with Warhol.

Her life and her work transcended what we think of as “fashion.” “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” celebrates a unique and uniquely determined woman.

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