Film Review: ‘Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel’ is Fabulous, Dahling
CHICAGO – Biography documentaries often are the most creative of that film genre. Over the past few years some notable general releases have included “The Kid Stays in the Picture” (2002) and the George Harrison treatment by Martin Scorsese. Add “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” to that list – bio docs that present a life in style and substance.
Diana Vreeland was a fashion influencer in the hotbed of New York City for over 30 years. She worked as a columnist and designer for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine in the mid 20th century, but came into her own in 1962 as the editor-in-chief for Vogue Magazine, and during nine tumultuous years she led the charge during one of the greatest fashion movements of the last 50 years. This documentary, subtitled “The Eye Has to Travel” attempts to get behind the icon, to a sense of her personhood. Using archival footage, illustrative film clips and a fun re-creation of an interview Diana conducted with the legendary writer George Plimpton, this is an essential film for fashion freaks, and it’s even interesting for everyone else.
Diana Dalziel was born in Paris in 1903, the daughter or privilege, and lived there until her early teenage years. At the outbreak of World War I, her family emigrated to New York City, where they joined high society. Diana at first practiced the art of ballet, actually dancing at Carnegie Hall. The Roaring Twenties started her on a party phase, which settled down after she married banker Thomas Vreeland.
She was discovered for the fashion world by Harper Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, and wrote a famous New York fashion column called “Why Don’t You…” (“Why don’t you decorate a nursery with maps of the world…” etc.). After being in Snow’s shadow for over 25 years, she became editor-in-chief at Vogue during the 1960s “youthquake” (her term) and helped evolve the fashion sense of the era. For her last act, she was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, drawing crowds with her shows of fashion art through the ages.
Photo credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films