Mrs. Vreeland's world
by Roberto Friedman
The documentary portrait Diana Vreeland : The Eye Has To Travel gets a special screening on Wed., Feb. 20, at the Castro Theatre, sponsored by Banana Republic and hosted by Mark Rhoades. Director Lisa Vreeland, married to the grandson of the immortal fashion editor (Harper's Bazaar, Vogue), will be in the house for an onstage Q&A with fabulous fashion icon Joy Venturini Bianchi. A cocktail party (7 p.m.) will precede the film (8 p.m.). Dress in red. Out There spoke by phone to director Vreeland as she was stuck in a traffic jam during an epic snowstorm in New York City last week.
Lisa Vreeland: Mrs. Vreeland would be so excited that the film is playing the Castro!
Out There: I'm told the theater's facade is going to be festively lit up in red, famously Mrs. Vreeland's favorite color.
She saw colors the way other people didn't see colors. She looked at the world without any closed doors, that's why she was so open. She had a lot of gay friends.
Yes, let's see: Yves Saint Laurent , Halston, Giorgio Armani, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote , Cecil Beaton. Not a bad party-list.
Yes! She could have a conversation with [director] Joel Schumacher when he was still doing windows at Henri Bendel! And she lived in a time when society women were not like that.
Do you think her sense of style has held over to the new century?
Her eye, her inspiration have endured, her sense of originality. There's no originality anymore. She was steeped in history, the ultimate teacher. [At the Met's Costume Institute,] she picked her favorite things to show, not like traditional museum shows. She brought in music, did a show about fragrances. But she always said, "I want a nine-year-old girl from Harlem to understand this!" Although she never wanted to be given any kind of label, she was a living example for women of that time. Her life was her work.
Mrs. Vreeland remains an icon whose influence changed the face of fashion, beauty, art, publishing and culture forever. The screening should be molto fun.
Up at dawn
From the Vreeland biography Empress of Fashion (reviewed in this issue), we devoured the following anecdote: While at Vogue in the early 1960s, Vreeland published a Richard Avedon photograph of Rudolph Nureyev dancing naked. The caption read, "Nureyev, here in an agony of action, could have been the inspiration for many of Michelangelo's sublime realizations of the human form."
What was not shown in the shot is what made it so memorable. Nureyev arrived at the studio straight from an overnight flight. He warmed up by dancing, surrounded by assistants. He then dismissed them. Only Vreeland and Avedon remained. Nureyev emerged naked from the dressing room. Vreeland recounted what happened:
"You know how it is with men in the morning," said Diana to the writer Richard Solomon when in her 80s, startling him with an extraordinary vertical gesture. "And it was like that. And it stayed that way for such a long time. And there was nothing we could do but wait for it to go down! And it was very strange, but it was impossibly beautiful!"