Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to travel
Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, and Frédéric Tcheng
Now playing at the Charles Theatre
For someone who has influenced the course of history as much as fashion editor Diana Vreeland has, it's surprising that it has taken 23 years since her death for her story to hit the screen. Perhaps one of the hardest things about documenting the life of an icon who died in the late '80s is portraying her own perspective directly. Luckily for directors Lisa Immordino Vreeland (who happens to be married to Vreeland's grandson), Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, and Frédéric Tcheng, her subject recorded a series of interviews before she died, laying the groundwork for her autobiography, D.V.
The result is a treasure trove of recordings, rich and clear, yet stamped with its own personality. At times, you might feel as if Vreeland is reaching out from the past to speak with you directly, pulling you into her wild red living room (which she described as a "garden in hell"). It comes as no surprise that Immordino Vreeland herself has a background in fashion, a fact reflected in the film. Its style is as clean and controlled as an Yves Saint Laurent suit, serving as a fitting tribute to its beloved subject.
At a compact 86 minutes, The Eye Has to Travel packs in interviews with the many people she has influenced over the years, highlighting the impact she made not only on the fashion world but on history as well. (She was a trusted advisor to Jackie Onassis.) But ultimately, Vreeland's importance almost weakens the film. Her style, her personality has so permeated the public's view of the fashion elite that the documentary feels incredibly predictable at points. From the outset, you can foresee her demanding nature, her mannerisms, her memories. In a way, since she spent her entire career shaping it, the course of fashion's history serves as her legacy, and the film only reiterates what the public absorbs via magazines, ads, and clothes. Toward the end of the film, you might just find yourself checking out, not because Vreeland fails to be a fascinating subject, but because her fingerprints are all over our culture today. You won't walk away from the film with any new insights, but at the very least, it's a fun jaunt through one woman's life.