Diana Vreeland is so iconic as a legend in fashion history that it feels silly to describe her. What else can you say other than she is the most elegant, inventive, and unique fashion editor in history? When I watched “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” the recently released documentary that traces her life and career, I was ready to be inspired. And, not surprisingly, I was. I was entranced by footage of her talking, more specifically the way she talked with her hands. She would wave her hands around in such dignified, slow manner: her polished nails extending her already long, thin fingers, with her white cuffs on either wrist framing her gestures. Beyond the film’s exploration of the stories, characters, parties, achievements, and general fabulousness surrounding the life of Diana Vreeland, I could not help but be fascinated by the way she moved her hands.
If you look at photos and footage of Mrs. Vreeland, you can see how practiced she is in using her hands in a way that almost seems like a lost art. The film shows us how she admired the ballet from a young age, learned dance in school, and danced her way through the 1920’s, so the musicality of her hand gestures come from an engrained part of her youth.
Her movements reflect her essential value: don’t be boring. They reflect a nostalgic era in fashion where glamour and creativity boomed. At the same time, Vreeland believed that “life is artifice.” In a sense she used something that seems so natural, the way she moved her hands, to curate her image as a powerful, glamourous woman. She understood how such a small detail could contribute a great deal to how people perceived her. I admire that so much.