Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (3 stars)

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

Photo: Estate of Horst P Horst / Art + Commerce

Thoughtful documenary about the influential fashion editor

Before Anna Wintour there was Diana Vreeland. The fearsome fashion editor, who worked at Harper's Bazaar in the 40s and 50s and Vogue during the 60s, was an eccentric and influential figure who brought ingenuity to the fashion world through her bold and exotic shoots. Her life is celebrated in this thoughtful documentary made by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, her granddaughter-in-law. 

The Eye Has to Travel starts at the beginning; born in Paris during the Belle Epoque Vreeland later moved to New York where she revelled in the avant garde scene of the 20s. In 1937 she became a columnist for Harper's Bazaar, a position that would launch her fashion journalism career. In the coming decades her daring and endlessly creative shoots would reflect the social upheaval of the 50s and 60s.

Featuring a large number of contributors including her children, former colleagues and well known faces like photographer David Bailey, Vreeland’s story is brought to life through a rich collection of archive images and footage. This isn’t a sugar-coated version though, the film strives to capture what Vreeland was like and she comes across as eccentric, visionary and frequently frustrating to work with, a woman obsessed with standing out from the crowd yet emotionally distanced from those close to her. 

In a mature move The Eye Has to Travel focuses less on the extravagent and ridiculous side of the industry (so often portrayed, and played up, in film and television) and more on Vreeland’s contribution to fashion as an artform. In her later years she would go on to work for New York’s Musuem of Modern Art, bringing fashion into an exhibition space for the first time.

A more reflective look at fashion journalism than 2009’s The September Issue (which followed Vogue’s current editor Anna Wintour), this documentary is likely to appeal to those with a serious interest in the industry. However, there’s no denying the similarities beween the two films, although it appears that when it comes to formidable fashion editors, Diana Vreeland got there first.

Selected release from Fri 21 Sep.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel - OFFICIAL TRAILER

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • USA
  • 1h 17min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Lisa Immordino Vreeland
  • Cast: Diana Vreeland
  • UK release: 21 September 2012

Documentary about legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who while working at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue brought ingenuity to the mid-20th century fashion industry with her bold and creative shoots. Mature and thoughtful but not sugar-coated, it presents her as eccentric and visionary but emotionally distanced from those…