Fashion Documentary - Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel Welcome back to the Summer of Fashion Documentaries series! This week we are looking at Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. (You can find this documentary streaming on Netflix or here on FFilms.org.)
Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and eventually became a consultant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.
But, perhaps more importantly, Vreeland was a connector and an innovator. She brought together different genres - music, club life, actors, models, artists, museums, and melded them together into something new and spectacular.
Vreeland's life was art. She was born in Paris, came on the scene during the roaring 20's, moved to New York, and happened to be around for some of the most important moments in American and European history. (She was friends with Coco Chanel. She watched Josephine Baker dance. She helped Jackie Kennedy with clothing decisions. She told Manolo Blahnik he should design shoes.)
She was also demanding, determined, and a total spitfire.
Random Diana Vreeland Facts:
-Was fired from Vogue.
-Wore rouge on her ears.
-Came from a dancing background.
-Designed lingerie in her early professional years.
-Thought that a racehorse was the personification of style. "When you see a racehorse being let out I think they've got something that no one else has."
-Was only envious of surfers, and wished she was alive during a time when she was young enough to take up surfing.
-Mother told her she was ugly.
-Took on models, actors, and actresses with "problematic" features and emphasized them in order to showcase their beauty "faults."
-Started working when she was 30.
-Told women it was okay to work during a time that it was considered uncouth.
Watch this Documentary
If you are in the fashion, magazine, graphic design, or museum industries. Vreeland touched each one of these fields with her wild imagination and influence.
Skip this Documentary
If the setup of the film is going to drive you crazy. The documentary is a series of interviews, movie clips, pictures, and dialogue based on conversations Vreeland had with George Plimpton. The "dialogue based on conversations" drove me a bit crazy. It was used as a device to drive the overarching narrative and it came off clunky and odd.
I also had a hard time with the sound (I watched it on Netflix, so it might be my singular experience due to my tv / wifi connection / sound system, but this just serves as a head's up.)
I understood that Vreeland was an important figure in fashion history, but I didn't quite comprehend the importance of her role at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. She revitalized both publications and brought the idea of fantasy fashion to life. She also pushed for a sense of narrative in photo shoots, thus changing the industry.
She also transformed the Costume Institute into something wildly alive. Her perspective changed the way museums understood the connection between objects and audience.
Can You Watch This While Doing Other Stuff?
I don't think so. I had such a hard time with the audio that I really had to concentrate in order to understand the story. Plus, Vreeland was such an eccentric I didn't want to miss any moments of her life story!
Running Time: 85 minutes (released 2011)
You can find our next documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, streaming on Netflix.