Diana Vreeland : The Eye has to Travel
By Lisa Immordinio Vreeland
Published by Abrams books £35.00
Hello lovelies. I had this book sent to me a few days ago and I’ve barely put it down since. This is the kind of book that my literary dreams are made of. Coffee table book quality photos with information and essays to rival any fashion reference book, all printed in a huge, thick papered, shiny cover. It was loooove at first sight.
Usually, when buying books that have anything to do with art, fashion or any visual culture, I’m aware that there are (basically and with exceptions) two types of book. The ones full of images, perfect for inspiration, scanning for projects and using as a visual aids and ones for text references, that are much more wordy, full of essays and generally more helpful for learning about a subject. Mixing the two is generally done, but not always done successfully, as I found out through three years of trying to find helpful fine art books through university. However, The Eye has to Travel, is one of those rare gems that manages to inform and visually make me swoon all at the same time.
If you’re not familiar with Diana Vreeland (1903 – 1989) then you should know that she was a fashion force to be reckoned with. She worked as fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar in the 1930’s, to then become editor-in-chief at Vogue magazine (1962 – 70) and went on to work at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute (1972 – 89) as a muse-in-residence because of her unparalleled knowledge and sheer love for clothes and artistry. To me, she seems like the kind of woman that personifies the term ‘girl power’, because to accomplish all of that in one lifetime and to have such an influence on such a large part of culture is incredibly inspiring.
The text in The Eye has to Travel, including writing by author, fashion consultant and film maker, Lisa Immordinio Vreeland and essays by Lally Weymouth, Judith Thurman and Judith Clark, give the life a Diana Vreeland, both a personal and historical context. Writing about her personality and passion, but also how she and fashion as a whole influenced culture, and in turn, how culture influenced the current fashion. The book chronicles 50 years of international fashion and captures each zeitgeist with quite frankly, amazing photos of editorials, magazine spreads and layouts, as well as showing images of fashion illustrations (by Marcel Vertes) and photography from the 40’s, side by side. Something I think our current fashion magazines should take note of. Mixing hand drawn illustrations and photography in the same article isn't as common today but I think definitely produces a much more visually interesting article.
The book is full of powerful quotes by the woman herself, photos ranging from 1930’s Balenciaga dresses, vintage Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue covers, musicians, patterns, actors and costumes amongst others, and I genuinely poured over it from the minute I got my hands on it. If you like fashion, art, art history and want to be able to read and learn about it whilst having beautiful images to look at too, then I’d definitely recommend this book. You won’t put it down, I swear. Unless it’s to make a cup of tea and go back to it, obviously …
[about photos from the 1930’s] ‘Those were the days when people dressed for dinner, and I mean dressed – not just changed their clothes. If a woman came in in a Balenciaga dress, no other woman existed.’