Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland, granddaughter-in-law to Diana Vreeland, has created a masterpiece with her documentary on the life of the fashion icon, a life that spanned from 1903-1989. The film includes a session with journalist George Plimpton, who was helped Vreeland with her memoir. These clips are juxtaposed with interviews from family members and people who worked with Diana during her long career in the fashion industry.
Vreeland's best known legacy is her numerous contributions to the world of fashion, beginning with her stint at Harper's Bizarre, where she started as a columnist working on a series called "Why Don't You...", where she asked readers quirky questions like, "Why don't you paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?" This quickly led to her promotion to fashion editor in 1936. During her time at Harper's she made the bikini popular by publishing the first photographs of the swimwear (so guys, you can thank her for that one), and discovered the model turned actress, Lauren Bacall, among her many other accomplishments.
When asked about the invention of the bikini, Vreeland remarks, "Do you know what came out of the war? Peace. Peace and the bikini...the bikini is the most important thing since the atom bomb." These witticisms are just one of the charming aspects sprinkled throughout the film.
In 1962, Diana moved to Vogue where she used her individuality and creativity to change the way women's magazines were run. Before Vreeland, these magazines focused on things like baking and cleaning, but Vreeland wanted more for the women of her time.
"Pie?" Vreeland asks in her robust, attention-grabbing voice, “who cares about pie when there’s Russia?” Vreeland was fascinated with the world from Russia to Paris, despite never having visited some of the places she claimed to love so much, the idea of what they were like in her head was good enough for her. It seemed Vreeland preferred fantasy to reality. She lived her life this way and encouraged others to do the same.
“Don’t tell a story, even if it’s true, if it’s boring,” Vreeland quips during one of the recorded interviews portrayed in the film. She encouraged outlandishness and extraordinary behavior in every aspect of life, and this reached beyond just fashion and style.
After being suddenly canned from Vogue at age 70, Vreeland could have retired. Instead, she reinvented herself as a fashion consultant at The Costume Institute at the Met, where she was responsible for establishing the way fashion shows are still exhibited in museums today. She turned fashion into an event, and helped to construct fashion's place in the world of art.
This is a film every woman, and the men who love them, should see. If it doesn’t inspire you, you aren’t listening.
Also, don’t miss your chance to meet Lisa Immordino Vreeland today from 5-7 at Forty Five Ten in Dallas for a book signing of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, the book that helped to inspire the film.