Last night I was invited to a screening of The Eye Has To Travel, a documentary about legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland. The screening was in the Lighthouse Cinema and was hosted by Fashion Screen Dublin who have been screening fashion films in Dublin for the last few months including documentaries on Yohji Yamamoto and Halston (both of which I’m raging I missed).
I read Vreeland’s memoirs a couple of years ago and so had some idea of her glamorous life and her influence on modern fashion. She started her career as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar and after twenty five years there she moved onto Vogue where she was editor-in-chief from 1963 to 1971. Famously fired from Vogue, she then went on to act as a consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She turned this dusty, rarely visited annex of the museum into a must-see cultural phenomenon, showing exhibitions of historical clothing and focusing on modern designers such as Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent.
Vreeland’s personality was larger than life, with a drawling loud voice that that gave weight to such pronouncements as ‘The bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb.’ She was by all accounts a tough boss, expecting her employees to work long hours and keep up with her outrageous demands. However her eye for style was unerring and her vision was that of an artist. Many of her editorials, although over fifty years old by now, drew gasps of admiration from the audience in The Lighthouse, they looked as contemporary as anything featured in the pages of current high fashion magazines.
The Eye Has To Travel was directed and produced by Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law Lisa Immordino Vreeland and is accompanied by a book of the same name. The documentary features interviews with many boldface fashion names who worked with Vreeland and were influenced by her, including Ali McGraw, Calvin Klein, Lauren Hutton, Richard Avedon, Anjelica Huston, Hubert de Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik and Marisa Berenson. The film is on general release from tomorrow and I would urge anyone with even a vague interest in fashion to see it.