Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel – Movie Review

Alison JamesAlison's Commentary

Prepare to be wowed and inspired by this documentary movie about the life and achievements of fashion icon, Diana Vreeland (July 29, 1903 to August 22,1989). She was the eldest daughter of an American socialite mother, Emily Key Hoffman, and a British father who was a descendant of George Washington’s brother. Diana was born and raised in Paris  where she lived among the fashionable ladies of French society. That she rubbed shoulders with the rich, the talented and the famous from an early age was to become de rigueur later on. Her family emigrated to the United States around 1914.

in the midst of her advantaged circumstances and upbringing, she grew to become “at cause” in her life. Many well-known faces and celebrities were to become famous because of her vision and flair. She was a catalyst and she could spot a certain “je ne sais quoi” about certain individuals. Not only that, she had a strong intuitive (or sixth) sense of what was desirable before there was a demand for it.  She kept abreast of the fast-paced changing times of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and she developed her own expressions and interpretations in fashion, art, color and form. She was not afraid to be different and she was not backwards in coming forwards.

The aspect of Diana Vreeland that I find so inspiring is that she possessed a fearless uniqueness (a topic I wrote about in my article The Uniqueness of You). Her work and a style were uniquely her own. This set her apart in the fashion industry and ultimately made her an icon. I believe she had fun with everything else. This is, after all, the woman who immortalized the string bikini and who said, “The bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb.” She was not afraid of nudity or to be riské. When asked in this documentary if the story of Amelia Earhart flying over her garden was fact or fiction, she replied “faction”.

I am sure it is true to say that her creative spirit was not always mindful of the sensitivities of those around her or perhaps the creative costs versus the bottom line in her positions in publishing. When she was passed over for a promotion at Harper’s Bazaar in 1957 she joined Vogue where she was editor-in-chief from 1963 to 1971. After being fired from Vogue she became consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971, during which tenure she organized a dozen or so striking and memorable exhibits.

While Diana Vreeland’s fascinating life was portrayed in two other movies: Infamous and Factory Girl and she is widely referenced elsewhere. She is known as the Empress of Fashion – and deservedly so. She was dedicated to her work and career, and her achievements and influence persist. This documentary captures her spirit. She had an extraordinary palette of life to draw upon, but she was up to the task.