Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Dallas International Film Festival preview: Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Girl Model
The two films document the haute and not of fashion.
Two documentaries at the 2012 Dallas International Film Festival delve into the fabulous world of fashion: Girl Model (playing April 18 and 19 at Angelika Film Center Dallas) and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (playing April 18 at Angelika Film Center Dallas). Though both focus on what happens behind the scenes, their approach represent a yin and a yang of the rarefied and often mysterious industry — complementary opposites that juxtapose the very public with the very shrouded.
Diana Vreeland traces the life and aesthetic of the legendary columnist and editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue through a reverential and familial eye: co-director Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Diana’s daughter-in-law. She said she wanted to share the fashion maven’s story with a younger generation that may not be familiar with her artistic vision.
“I wanted to treat the material beautifully and be respectful of the photographers’ work,” she said, referring to the many breathtaking and artful images of both Vreeland and magazine models in the film, which meanders through the haute couture worlds in Paris, New York and elsewhere. Diana Vreeland’s impact on what fashion is, from her discovery of Lauren Bacall in the 1940s and her role as fashion advisor to First Lady Jackie Kennedy to her post as head of the Met’s Costume Institute in her final years, is marvelously shown, mostly through Diana’s posthumous eyes.
But just as light cannot exist without darkness, Girl Model scrapes at fashion’s decidedly unspectacular underbelly. Ashley Sabin and David Redmon’s documentary introduces us to 13-year-old Nadya, a young and pretty Siberian with dreams of seeing herself on the cover of, well, Vogue—just as many girls do—and who unglamorously crashes in Asia.
Sabin and Redmon were contacted by Ashley Arbaugh, a model scout for the Japanese market and an ex-model herself, to film the stark realities of talent recruitment. The directors traveled to Siberia to latched on to Nadya and her poor family, then followed the girl to Japan as she starts her career, setting up the film as a reality narrative.
“This is not an investigative piece,” Sabin said. “We are not digging up dirt on the fashion industry. It is a character driven story.”
What Girl Model does, however, is reveal the fashion industry’s nearly complete lack of regulation or oversight: no minimum or categorical age limit is in place for models, for instance. “When the bottom line is what is important, values and morals tend to get tossed out the window,” Sabin said.
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