The Legacy of Diana Vreeland: Now in Print and Film


“I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere. It was me – projecting to the public. That was my job. I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the pubilc. GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY NEVER KNEW THEY WANTED.” – Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor whose vision and creativity forever changed the course of fashion and how it is showcased in magazines today. Following the release of a book on the legacy of Ms. Vreeland, the film, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, has premiered in theatres worldwide. In 2011, the film won the Silver Hugo Award for International Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival. Shown at the Gene Siskel Film Center last month, the movie was released on DVD on February 5.

Seeing is believing, and from the 1930s through the 1980s Ms. Vreeland showed she had the eye for fashion like no other. Working in the field of fashion for over 50 years, Ms. Vreeland started her career as Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar from 1936 to 1962, then took the reigns at Vogue from 1962 until 1971 (forming and creating the magazine to be what it is today) before the final part of her career at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until her death in 1989.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Ms. Vreeland discovered talented beauties with a very unique look by accentuating their ‘flaws.’ All of these ladies went on to lucrative careers. On Ms. Vreeland’s list of favorites include Twiggy, Lauren Bacall, Angelica Huston, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Hutton, Ali McGraw, Cher, Barbara Streisand and Maris Callas.

One of the most-talked-about photo spreads was shot in 1961 – a pictorial of the presidential couple, the Kennedys, at the White House. Jackie Kennedy chose to have their first photos printed in Harper’s Bazaar because she so admired Ms. Vreeland. But women weren’t the only ones highlighted in the fashion magazines. Ms. Vreeland’s column “People Are Talking About” was the must-read of the time. In July, 1964, Ms. Vreeland featured a very young 19-year-old Mick Jagger in Vogue. It was the very first photo of the singer printed in the U.S. Infatuated with the British for some time, Ms Vreeland also featured the Beatles in Vogue, 1968.

Ms. Vreeland was a dreamer whose dreams came true, an inspiration for all. In a 1977 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine she said, “I believe you see, in the dream. I think we only live through our dreams and our imagination. That’s the only reality we really ever know.”

This movie is a must-see for any fashionista, fashion editor and those who are interested in the history of fashion. Loved the film.



About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.