Diana Vreeland is difficult to describe in one word.
Some might call her worldview a bit eccentric. Others call her an artistic mastermind.
The 2011 documentary “Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel” attempts to capture the essence of the former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor, the famed lady who taught the world how to admire the magic of fashion.
The film hops around images of at a frenetic pace, following a basic chronological order but only giving glimpses here and there of Vreeland’s quote-able thoughts. In a way, that that’s how Vreeland viewed the world: a place to discover, to marvel, to be enthralled with.
She constantly chased the thrill of seeking new adventures. One of Vreeland’s worries, according to the movie, was becoming bored of the world.
On one hand, her fascination with uniqueness and extremes led her to highlight beauty other people did not see. She was one of the first to pioneer the idea of “flawesome,” or being proud of your physical traits that seemed most odd, or “flawed,” to others: a model’s tooth gap, a profile shot of Barbara Streisand’s noise. (Sorry, Tyra Banks.) The movie noted several times that though Vreeland was not pretty, she more than compensated for that fact with her forceful leadership in the creative world.
Another example of Vreeland’s adventurous spirit was one of my favorite shoots in the movie, when Vogue went to Japan and found tall sumo wrestler to pose with the model. The spread looked otherworldly.
The downside to seeing the world at its extremes – like only seeing colors in their most vivid saturation – was that she tended to blur fact and fiction, even admitting that her recounting of her personal history was a hybrid called “faction.”
She selected the best pieces of a story – in this case, her life – and put those on display. It didn’t matter so much the chronology or the tone, so long as the magic was there.