(Documentary, PG-13, 86 minutes)
“She was not very rich or very
beautiful, but she created beauty,
and she created wealth.”
— A quote from “Diana Vreeland:
The Eye Has to Travel”
Before Anna Wintour and Helen Gurley Brown was Diana Vreeland. Born in 1903, she overcame a childhood racked with insecurities to become one of the most noted women not only in fashion, but also history. From advising former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy on her appearance to introducing the world to a young English model named Twiggy, Vreeland’s impact is legendary.
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” chronicles the life of the late icon, from her days at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to her groundbreaking influence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This documentary is a first for Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who directed and produced it. Lisa is married to Alexander Vreeland, Diana’s grandson.
Although Lisa never had a chance to meet the subject of her documentary, she said the film will allow people to get the opportunity to know Diana. She said her influence and message transcend fashion.
“There’s no one like her,” Lisa said. “In the fashion world, she’s had a big influence worldwide. She’s untouchable.”
Oscar de la Renta, Manolo Blahnik, Anjelica Huston, Calvin Klein and Lauren Hutton are among the 60 people Lisa interviewed. The film’s narration comes from dialogue from Diana’s memoirs, “DV,” which she collaborated with George Plimpton to write in the early 1980s. Lisa said it took nearly three years to complete the film.
“They all did it for Mrs. Vreeland. They did it for her and for how much she has touched their lives. Everyone contributed so much to the film,” she said. “I am very touched that people who have important careers and who are moving 100 miles per hour have the time to get in touch with me to say I did a good job.”
Diana was raised in an aristocratic family. She spent her youth in Europe and America. In 1936, she was unexpectedly hired as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar. She would remain there for 25 years, followed by a career at Vogue. In 1972 — at age 70 — Diana took the helm at the Met’s Costume Institute. She died in 1989.
Lisa said Diana was a woman who was brought up in high society but was able to connect with people regardless of social status. She said, “It wasn’t typical of a person back then to be able to cross over.”
During her time at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, Diana bucked traditions and pushed boundaries. Her mother insulted her looks, and Diana said was “her ugly little monster.” In turn, Diana embraced Lauren Hutton’s gap, Cher’s nontraditional features and other physical aspects of models that were not considered traditional standards of beauty. She also featured avant garde photography and used celebrities such as Sophia Loren and Mick Jagger as cover models and interview subjects.
Lisa said Diana’s vision is the reason for the publications’ longevity.
“Vogue was not a very important magazine at the time. She went in there and brought life to it,” Lisa said. “Only she was able to understand the ’60s. It was also part of understanding the high culture and low culture.”
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” opens exclusively at the Tara Theatre, 2345 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta. Lisa said her emotional attachment to the film is more on a technical level since it was her first. However, she said the Vreeland family as a whole was supportive of the film.
“The family did not realize that it would reach this proportion. It’s playing all over the world,” Lisa said. “The fact that I have their support — that’s is irreplaceable.”
And so is Diana. When asked who embodies her spirit today in the fashion world, Lisa said, “Nobody. Nobody should. It is more about being inspired. We are lucky to have someone like her to give it to us. She was totally unique.”