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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Diana Vreeland: Monkey Fur and Killer Dillers

Posted by on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM

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  • JAMES KARALES

Lisa Immordino Vreeland's documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel pieces together her grandmother-in-law's gigantic personality using the main ingredients of fashion magazines: celebrity interviews and pretty photographs. There are also film clips, animations, and plenty of voice-overs, including some brutally rigid impersonations scripted from the famous memoir. In segments when Diana speaks, she twirls some words around, but barks out others, and her careful lunatic phrases mix ad copy with slam poetry, suggesting she's kidding, but she's not. On her husband, Reed: "The most ravishing, devastating, killer-diller." On Buffalo Bill: "This languid, plunging, wonderful, marvelous-looking man." On Twiggy: "Such a personality, such a kid, such a girl, such a wow."

Diana was a consultant to the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, and before that she was editor in chief at Vogue, and before that she was fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar: "[Bazaar's editor Carmel Snow] saw me dancing at the St. Regis one night," says a voice layered over dreamy xylophone music and stock footage of old-timey nightclubs. "She admired what I had on—Chanel, of course. So she offered me a job. I said, 'But I've never worked before. I've never dressed before lunch.' She said, 'But you seem to know a lot about clothes. Why don't you try it?'" (She did, and Diana's career-propelling column mixed fashion tips with fantastic nonsense. It was called Why Don't You: "Have a white monkey-fur bedcover mounted on yellow velvet?" or "Have your cigarettes stamped with a personal insignia as a well-known explorer did with his penguin?")

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