“I loathe nostalgia,” reads the first line of Diana Vreeland’s autobiography. This is a curious opening for a book about to delve into the past, but a fitting mantra for a woman who always lived her life on the cutting edge. And, of course, she was right: Even while dishing up wild stories about run-ins with Josephine Baker’s cheetah and a pants-less Jack Nicholson, she does so with no sense of wistfulness. And why should she? Her sense of style was always years ahead of its time because her eyes were always looking forward.
Today in Paris, the city in which Vreeland was born, Barneys New York paid homage to the fashion legend with a screening of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, a documentary by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the wife of Diana’s grandson, Alexander. The setting? La Pagode, the legendary theater built in 1896 to resemble a Japanese pagoda—and a fitting locale given Vreeland’s love of all things Oriental. (One of her best-known ensembles was an Yves Saint Laurent jacket boldly embellished with a gold pagoda.)
The film itself is an exuberant celebration of a life lived with passion—for travel, for adventure and, most importantly, for style. It is not a coincidence that the evolution of modern fashion has hewed closely to the arc of Vreeland’s life. Throughout her careers at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she was one of the strongest forces shaping the course of fashion for nearly fifty years. (Even now, you can hardly talk about the color red without invoking Vreeland’s ode to the hue: “It makes all other colors more beautiful.”)
Vreeland devotees took a respite from the runways of Paris Fashion Week to join host Mark Lee, the CEO of Barneys New York and co-executive producer of the film, at the screening. Among the guests of honor were Connie Uzzo, Helene de Ludinghausen, Mme. Deroche, Michele Lamy, Patrick Demarchelier, Didier Grumbach and designers L’Wren Scott, Lucien Pellat-Finet, Cedric Charlier, Aurelie Bidermann, Olivier Rousteing and Ahmed Abdelrahman. Joining them were a select few who, as chroniclers of modern fashion, are following directly in Vreeland’s footsteps: Emmanuelle Alt of Vogue Paris, Aliona Doletskaya from Russian and German Interview Magazine, Ingrid Sischy of Vanity Fair International, Linda Wells of Allure and Vogue’s Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman.
In fact, it was Goodman who told The Window last year: “I cut my teeth with DV. With her, I learned fashion A to Z. To Diana, the most important thing could be the most insignificant and the most insignificant the most important. She taught me to keep my eyes wide open at all times.”
Women’s Wear Daily was also on hand to report on the event.