Celebrated as one of most innovative fashion editors of the 20th century, Diana Vreeland had successful runs at both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and later as a consultant with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland and Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, chronicles the life of the “Empress of Fashion,” following her early years in Paris and New York, her start as a columnist for Bazaar and her mid-century reign as the one of most prominent fashion editors.
Born in 1903, Vreeland’s life spanned almost the entire 20th century. Through her tangential or direct association with major events and figures, she’s like a true-life Forrest Gump (minus the naiveté and slow wit). As a child, she witnessed the coronation of George V. She claims to have rode with Buffalo Bill while living in the Rocky Mountains. Charles Lindbergh flied over her home in Brewster, New York on his transatlantic flight. She attended the same event as Adolf Hitler in 1930s Berlin. She discovered Lauren Bacall. She served as a fashion advisor to Jacqueline Kennedy. Some of these events, the documentary goes on to explain, were true; others were embellishments that Vreeland perpetuated.
The filmmakers embrace Vreeland’s fictionalized version of herself by incorporating scenes from fictional films like Funny Face and Who Are You Polly Magoo, both featuring characters modeled on Vreeland, into the film. The scenes are cleverly used to illustrate Vreeland’s personality, but it is important to keep in mind that these are film scenes and not documentary footage. I wonder if they were even necessary; I would’ve enjoyed a bit more of the rest of the film’s b-roll, which consisted mainly of Vogue and Bazaar photographs, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the photo shoots, and interviews with Vreeland herself.
Told with wit and charm, and with a run time of under 90 minutes, The Eye Has to Travel is light, fast-paced and laudatory documentary; it’s an enjoyable documentary that gives the viewer a sense of the evolution of 20th century fashion. It’s currently available to stream on Netflix.Read More