The new documentary about Diana Vreeland, "The Eye Has to Travel," is a fun 90-minute visit with one of the most influential editors in publishing history. It's studded with models, photographers and celebrities who knew and loved her, and members of her family who had to learn to cope with the former Harper's Bazaar and Vogue editor's eccentricities.
Ms. Vreeland got her start in magazines writing a posh advice column called "Why Don't You Try," which made its debut in Harper's Bazaar in 1936. It was a huge hit and was the foundation for her ascent to the top of the publication, where she spent 26 years before stepping down. No doubt bitter, Ms. Vreeland --speaking via an old audio recording-- noted at one point in the film that she never got raises from her bosses at Harper's and the advertisers couldn't stand her. That's what led to her second big magazine job, as editor of Vogue during the 1960s.
For her, personality and style influences came from places she'd never been but dreamed of , like India, and from the tall tales she told -- like seeing Charles Lindbergh fly overhead one fine day. Why lie? Because it was more interesting than the truth, she would say. Her column exemplified her inability to just be normal; she regularly made over-the-top suggestions that seemed to fly in the face of what average American style or the economic environment were at the time.
We thought it'd be fun to pull together some excerpts and see how they stand up today. Here are 15 of our favorite.
Why Don't You ...
1. wash your blond child's hair in dead champagne as they do in France?
2. wear violet velvet mittens with everything?
3. bring back from Central Europe a huge white baroque porcelain stove to stand in your front hall?
4. have a yellow satin bed entirely quilted in butterflies?
5. turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy-dress party?
6. paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys' nursery so they won't grow up with a provincial point of view?
7. turn your old ermine coat into a bathrobe?
8. have a furry elk-hide trunk for the back of your car?
9. tie black tulle bows on your wrists?
10. hide your hips in an accordion-plated jacket?
11. tie an enormous bunch of silver balloons on the foot of your child's bed on Christmas Eve?
12. have a room done up in every color green? This will take months, years, to collect, but it will be delightful-a melange of plants, green glass, green porcelains, and furniture covered in sad greens, gay greens, clear, faded, and poison greens?
13. give someone an enormous white handkerchief linen tablecloth, and in different handwriting and colors (black, acid green, pink, scarlet and pale blue) have embroidered all the bon mots you can possibly think of ?
14. stick Japanese hairpins in your hair?
15. twist [you child's] pigtails round her ears like macaroons?