Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Divine Diana

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Divine Diana

Article excerpt

Diana Vreeland:

The Eye Has to Travel PG, Nationwide I don't care much for fashion - ask anyone;

I've even lately surrendered to the fleece - and don't care for fashion magazines at all.

They have nothing to say to my life. They've never even featured 'top ten fleeces of the season', as far as I know. But this isn't to say I don't enjoy the odd mischievous trip behind the scenes. I loved The Devil Wears Prada, starring my friend Meryl, with whom I have dined. I loved The September Issue, the fly-on-the-wall about American Vogue and Anna Wintour, although the only thing I can now remember is being fixated with Ms Wintour's bob which, one day, will surely join under the chin, as if she'd grown her own snood.

And this film about Diana Vreeland, who presided over Harper's and Vogue during the glory days of couture, when you had to have three fittings just for a nightie, is also fantastic fun. It's full of energy and zing, just like its subject, although, just like its subject, it also feels less than truthful somehow. Then, again, she was such an extraordinary, outlandish woman perhaps it just doesn't matter. Let's not get all picky in our old age.

Made by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the wife of one of Diana's grandsons, this is a straight up and down documentary. Vintage footage. Vintage interviews with the subject herself. Talking heads. Plus the transcript of recorded interviews she gave to George Plimpton when he helped her write her biography, modestly called DV. These are read as a voiceover by an actress (Annette Miller) imitating Ms Vreeland's raspy drawl and, I like to think, capturing her cadences, particularly when it comes to the most delicious words, like 'pizzazz' and 'divine', which are said as if they include their own exclamation marks. At the onset of her discussions with Plimpton, she remarks, 'I don't give a damn what's in the book, George, as long as it sells.' And that was her attitude to life.

She was born in Paris to an American socialite mother and British businessman father. She had a big nose and was not compared favourably with her pretty little sister. Her mother would even introduce her as 'the ugly one', which was nice. The family emigrated to New York at the outbreak of the first world war, although Paris would remain her great love. …

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