Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2012) Review

Diana Vreeland with Andy Warhol.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is a documentary about the greatest editor to grace the pages of fashion editing in the 20th century. It includes interviews of the grand lady herself as well as interviews of her children, various influential contributors and coworkers. In all, the film is a kind tribute to a formidable and influential dilettante of media.

Lisa Immordino Vreeland is the director and wife of Diana Vreeland’s grandson, Alexander. The entire documentary possesses an insider’s casual privilege. Audiences will continuously find themselves lost within the excitement of firsthand testimony to the impressive legend. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel marks Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s first foray into film. She has implemented a multitude of media, including photographs, animation and music.

Compiled of live interviews and voice recordings of Diana with such notable journalists as Diane Sawyer and Jane Pauley, the documentary consists mainly of information shared with biographer and confidante, George Plimpton. An intimate and very personal portrait is painted and enhanced of the woman who revolutionized women’s fashion and magazine editorials.

Audiences who appreciate personal style and international fashion will be riveted by the stock footage and early pictures of musicians, models, writers and photographers who once collaborated with Diana and who have maintained relevance today. Her use of color and innate ability to glorify the exotic are revealed through the exploration of her character and early upbringing. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel glorifies the heyday of American literature by way of the glossy periodical and the beautiful and remote locales as pioneered by the Grande Dame of high fashion editing.

Personal insight is offered from Diana Vreeland’s children. Her sons are candid and very honest about their early lives, as well as when discussing later times as they grew to maturity in the limelight. All was compounded by the revolution of the media as the offspring of a celebrity. Via modern technology, Diana is able to offer glimpses of her own psyche against the personal truths and experiences of her children’s memories.

Film buffs may recognize various characters inspired by the brass tacks, no-holds-barred Mrs. Vreeland as cited by the documentary. Audiences who relate to parenting and time management, however, can appreciate the effort required to operate a business, negotiate a household and maintain one’s sanity. The documentary introduces a young Diana born into the gilded and romanticized Belle Époque. She reaches adulthood in the Roaring 20s. She marries and becomes a working American mother, and into the hip-swiveling 50s Diana emerges as a force of nature.

From her prominent friends to her loyal patrons, it is clear how Mrs. Vreeland’s impact on editing superseded the design of clothing. Her keen eye and imaginative vision allowed for the whim and confidence necessary to take on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Whether introduced to Diana Vreeland’s legacy by her work with Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue or through her contributions at the Met, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel offers proof that defines and outlines the impact made on history by the petite woman with the distinctive voice and dark hair.

Mature audiences will marvel over the historic value in the life of Mrs. Vreeland, a woman who saw many changes throughout the world during her reign of ladies’ periodicals. Audiences newer to the life and times of the 20th century can note the evolution of modern standards of beauty, marketing and women’s role in the home and workplace.

Historians and feminists will note the age-old argument of the power and finesse tantamount to being great at ruling a business and the judgment that can be placed on women who seek to do just that. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel showcases and pays the sweetest homage to a gifted, talented and innately chic game-changer.