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BEWARE OF PEARL GRAY WITH PINK SAYS the original Diana Vreeland

From the Daily

Diana Vreeland’s Legendary Life: ‘The Eye Has to Travel’

by Sep 17, 2012 1:00 AM EDT

Diana Vreeland was imperious, eccentric, and unforgettable.

Diana Vreeland
The editor in her apartment, which she wanted to look like “a garden in hell.” ((c) Estate of Horst P. Horst-Art + Commerce / Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films)

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Diana Vreeland is single-handedly responsible for the pop-culture meme that great fashion editors are flamboyant and eccentric, possess the temperaments of tyrants, and are prone to mysterious pronouncements about pink being the navy blue of India. But more important than her easily caricatured personality, Vreeland’s creative gestures were so bold and sweeping that ever since she strode the halls of Vogue magazine for much of the 1960s, all other editors in chief have been compared to her.

Vreeland was the inspiration for actress Kay Thompson’s imperious fashion editor in the film Funny Face. Vreeland was terrorizing assistants long before Meryl Streep made Anne Hathaway cower in The Devil Wears Prada. Vreeland was fashion’s original bulldozing diva—but she wore Chanel.

Vreeland began her career as the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar, where she first gained confidence and made a reputation as a working woman with an eye for style and a nose for what’s next. But it was at Vogue, as editor in chief, that the legendary “DV” was born.

While at Vogue, from 1962 to 1971, she transformed a magazine focused on society swans and long-necked mannequins into a global souk sprinkled with Hollywood glitter. She sent a caravan of editors, photographers, and models around the world, instructing them to bring back souvenirs, stories, and elaborate fantasies that took readers outside their quotidian lives.

Vreeland was a well-traveled woman—having been born in Paris and living in London and then New York. But she often spoke about the magic of countries from Russia to Mongolia as if she had seen them with her own eyes when, instead, she had really only seen them in her imagination.

But few places could compare to Vreeland’s vast imagination. In everything from the story of her life to a photo story in the magazine, Vreeland tended to exaggerate and gild the lily. Indeed, she sometimes simply made things up. Her ease with the well-placed lie was as much a secret to her success as it was a flaw.

Over the years, Vreeland has been an irresistible subject for writers and filmmakers. Indeed, her memoir, D.V., which was edited by George Plimpton, is, in some ways, her own personal tall tale. The play Full Gallop took audiences into Vreeland’s red-lacquer Manhattan apartment just after she was fired from Vogue and before she became a consultant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Full Gallop aimed to bring her spirit to life, if not tell the gimlet-eyed truth about the actual woman.

It may be that it takes the full complement of media to even get close to the story of a woman whose surface was so captivating—jet black hair, highly rouged cheeks, and a beak-like nose that plastic surgery never rendered characterless—but whose interior was so confounding. The Eye Has to Travel, a documentary by Lisa Immordino Vreeland scheduled for a limited release on Sept. 21, offers another set of clues to understanding a woman who pushed fashion into popular culture and used that culture to change the direction of fashion.

Diana Vreeland
Two style icons: Vreeland with model Marisa Berenson. (James Karales / Courtesy of Estate of James P. Karales-Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Immordino Vreeland never met her grandmother-in-law. Diana Vreeland died in 1989. So while Immordino had intimate access to the fashion icon’s sons and extended family, she had a useful distance from her subject that allowed her to see Vreeland in especially clear terms. The filmmaker also boasts a fashion background and a nuanced understanding of the industry’s mythmaking and social significance. Using television news clips and audiotapes from Vreeland’s lengthy conversations with Plimpton when she was working on D.V., the documentary allows Vreeland to speak for herself—but it also strives to keep her honest.

Hearing Vreeland’s voice with its vaguely continental accent and its alluring lyricism, it’s easy to understand how she could cajole others into bringing her fantasies to life. In her earnest enthusiasm, one hears the effusive rhythms of today’s fashion pop stars like André Leon Talley or Tyra Banks.

The most poignant aspects of the film are the personal meditations. Her sons, Thomas and Frederick, speak to the difficulty of having such a dynamic character as a mother. The discomforting hurt of her legendary status is evident on their adult faces. Vreeland’s blunt assessment of her looks is also startling. She considers herself terribly unattractive until she meets Thomas Reed Vreeland, her husband-to-be. He makes her feel beautiful, she says. That perilous state—having one’s physical confidence reliant on the admiration of another—affects her entire career. She is driven by a voyeur’s judgment of beauty. Personal satisfaction in her own beauty is a struggle—one as obvious as the slash of rouge on her cheeks.

Did insecurity spark more than a little unkind treatment of assistants and junior editors? How much of fashion is fueled by insecurity—for better or worse?

And, of course, there are her lies. There are tales of Charles Lindbergh flying overhead while she sat with her boys on holiday, descriptions of a never-seen Russia. Fact did not interfere with a story or a myth. And in contemporary times, such blatant untruthfulness would be looked upon with derision. A million tweets would send scolding commentary into the universe. But Vreeland understood that fashion had little to do with truth. She glosses blithely over topics such as diversity or feminism with a kind of wry and dismissive humor.

As a piece of filmmaking, The Eye Has to Travel is not especially dazzling. But Immordino Vreeland has the patience to, at times, simply let Vreeland speak. Often she is witty. Sometimes she is heartbreaking. And occasionally she is baffling. And in her fibs, exaggerations, and outright lies, she reveals something of the complicated truth about fashion.

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Robin Givhan is a special correspondent for style and culture for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. In 1995 she became the fashion editor of The Washington Post, where she covered the news, trends, and business of the international fashion industry. She contributed to Runway Madness, No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade and the Rights of Garment Workers and Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers. She is the author, along with the Washington Post photo staff, of Michelle: Her First Year as First Lady. In 2006 she won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism for her fashion coverage. She lives and works in Washington, D.C.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at

 Delightfully entertaining documentary full of wisecracks, insights, gossip, exotic fashion shots, models, designers, and factions from the irrepressible Ms. Vreeland. It’s showing at the Esquire now. Treat yourself to this completely original look at an unsurpassed original fashion editor.  Jan

TAGS: Denver, Esquire Theatre, Fashion, Diana Vreeland

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Denver Go to Memphis


I waited three years to see Memphis, The Musical. I dreamed of seeing it on Broadway but before I could travel to NYC from Florida, I moved back to Denver.  Then I dreamed of being in Memphis, Tennessee, for the namesake’s opening night.  I vowed to myself. I wouldn’t miss it if it came to Denver. Last week was my opportunity and I didn’t miss it.  I was like the young boy I was shoulder to shoulder with at the pre-show merchandise counter.  We were two star-struck teens, we shopped, fidgeted, handled all novelty items, magnets, CD’s, key chains and lip-synched the songs. I quickly made my decision, a pink, girl-cut T-shirt with the orange guitar running up the side with the words: Memphis Lives in Me.

I grew up west of Memphis in Little Rock, Arkansas. My favorite radio station was KOKE,  with the tag line, The Black Spot on Your Radio Dial. Those late night shows were the beginning of my love affair with blues, hip-shakin’ rock’n roll, jive, jump blues from the likes of Sam Cooke, Etta James, Big Mamma Thornton, Little Richard, Gatemouth Brown, Muddy Waters, BB King and Ben E. King, Bobby Blue Bland and one of my all time favs Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry.  The impact on my life from their music and my Southern heritage is a badge I’m proud to wear.

Memphis, The Musical is about that era in our musical history when white adolescents discovered and loved black music. If  the 45 rpm “A White Sports Coat with a Pink Carnation,” by Marty Robbins crossed over from country to pop, Little Richard’s  ‘Tutti Frutti’ the same year, 1957, hit the airwaves with another explosion. The hit parade songs from Perry and Frank didn’t resonate with white suburban kids anymore, they had heard rock ‘n roll.  One night, as the musical story goes, black & whites met on common ground at a colored juke joint in Memphis, Tennessee. Huey Calhoun, the white boy who became Memphis’s first cross-over DJ, was lured by the toe-tapping, soulful music seeping under the door. It changed Huey’s life, Memphis town, and rock ‘n roll forever.

I will not go on & on about how wonderful this show is and what it meant to me. I don’t have time to write my childhood story to include my Memphis Aunt Jamie Sue or Aunt Jack (who told Elvis’s father to kiss her ass when he left her waiting in the Graceland foyer for over an hour) on this little blog.  But here’re the facts, Memphis, The Musical, won four Tony Awards in 2010 for Best Musical, Best Original Score (David Bryan from Bon Jovi, and Joe DePietro), and Best Orchestrations (David Bryan and Daryl Waters). If you have a chance to see MTM you will be singing and longing, depending on where you’re from, for Memphis the Musical or hankering for the hometown flavors of Memphis, Blues & BBQ.

The show is beautifully orchestrated and choreographed with fabulous dancers, singers, brilliant stage & set design and music that fills the heart. Everyone leaves the show with the song title embedded in their soul:  Memphis Lives in Me.  click here for Little Richard singing “Tutti Frutti.”

Get your tickets at

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STOMP for Rhythm Lovers


At the Buell Theater, September 25 – 30, 2012. Opening night proved that STOMP is loved in Denver. It’s a fast paced show that literally starts with a toe tap and ends with uproarious finger snapping, foot stomping, tapping on cans, match boxes, brooms and hilarious and talented actors who hilariously interact with the audience a la mime. Adults and children alike, were compelled to interact with yelps and laughs as the actors pointed to the audience and engaged the crowd in this very creative and rhythmical beloved Broadway show.

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Denver’s Bunkport Theater, “A Happy Ending,” praise from Henry Lowenstein


Dear Theatre Friends,
I rarely comment on currently running productions but will make an exception with “A Happy End” at the Buntport Theatre. Set in 1932 Berlin, it tells the story of a Jewish physicist and his family as they vacillate in face of the coming Nazi threat. Should they leave everything behind or might it all be a passing phase that will soon blow over?
I was seven years old in Berlin in 1932 when I heard the very same discussions as many family friends decided to leave Germany. It became my quick lesson in survival and the end of being a child.  My mother saw the coming danger whereas my father, who had been highly decorated for his service as an Army doctor during all four years of World War One, would not believe that his  beloved Germany could allow Hitler to rule for any length of time.
Iddo Netanyahu’s play brilliantly catches the conflicting emotions of the time, Ami Dayan’s direction is eerily reminiscent of Erwin Piscator’s 1920’s Epic Drama style and the cast is terrific.
Henry Lowenstein
“A Happy End” Thursdays –Sundays until Sept 16th, Buntport Theatre
Link to buy tickets:

September 1-16
(previews Aug 30 and 31)
Thurs – Sat at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

Buntport Theater
717 Lipan Street,
Denver Colorado

Tickets at

or at box office
1hr before the show

Box Office / Groups:

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“Searching for Sugar Man”


“Searching for Sugar Man,” is the movie to see this fall in art house theaters. It is a wonderful story about a little known ‘rock star’ who was hailed in the early 1970’s to be bigger than Dylan. Music producers predicted he’d be the next music star.

As Clarence Avant, former executive at Motown, said, “If I had to pick the top ten most talented artists I’ve worked with, Rodriguez would be in the top five.” He was that good. Avant also added, “Let me see, he sold, hmmm, about…..six (6), six albums and those were to me and my kids.”

As the albums were released, Rodriguez made no waves from Detroit, or any where in America for that matter, yet, during his 30 years of obscurity in America, he was completely revered in South Africa and quite literally was a bigger icon than Elvis. Rodriguez’s family had no idea of any of this until 1998, when two fans hunkered down to find out if any one in the world knew a thing about Sixto Rodriguez. The fabled story heard in South Africa was he had committed suicide on stage. For twenty five years his music was played and idolized, while the story of his death was the stuff of rock legends.

Websites were created in South Africa, requesting any sliver of information about Rodriguez, who remained the mysterious, genius song writer from America. Then it happened one early dawn in 1998. The two South African fans, one a music store owner and one a music journalist uncovered astonishing facts.

This story has caught the eyes and heart of every one who has heard the story or seen the newly released Music and Performing Arts Documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man,’released by Sony Pictures Classics. The movie/documentary was directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul. Its first screening was at The Sundance Film Festival. It left Utah with rave reviews.

Enough said. You should see it or read about it. I refuse to say another thing. This is a movie that digs deep into the American soul.  It resounds with every one who has ever lived and worked here. Rodriguez, like Woody Gutherie, is an American Hero. A legend and essential artist for lyrics that go beyond our every day struggles. Sixto Rodriguez’s words reached South Africa in a big way because he was talking about the struggles of people every where. His newly found, 34 year old, 2 1/2 albums have unleashed words that will last a lifetime, lyrics that come with a prolonged influence on the struggles of the working class every where in the world.

Debut album, Cold Fact, is not sold anywhere in the USA. Cuts “I Wonder” and “Sugarman,” are as fresh and intelligent today as they were in 1968. Soon, I’m guessing, his song ‘I Wonder,’ will be heard on radio stations around Denver.

It’s at the Mayan Theatre, on 1st & Broadway. 

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MEMPHIS, THE MUSICAL, October 9 – 21, 2012 at the Buell


OCTOBER 9 – 21, 2012

Get your tickets now, they are selling fast. Tony Award for best Musical, 2010.

Buell Theatre

For Tickets:



TTY: 303-893-9582

Box Office open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Memphis is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Their journey takes you to the ends of the airwaves — filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock ’n’ roll.


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LoDo’s Curious Hotel


“Driving Miss Daisy,” performed at The Barth Hotel in downtown Denver, is a perfectly lovely, professional production staged in the ‘living room” of the curious Barth Hotel.  It was built in 1881 for Eastern rail travelers arriving at Denver’s Union Station. Looking east it gave them a first glance at this strange western city with a view up 17th Avenue.  Depending on the traveler’s wealth, they looked east past the grand and glorious Oxford Hotel on to The Barth, which was a nice hotel that was ‘well lighted, perfectly ventilated and furnished in the most elegant and attractive manner.’

What is so charming about this production has to do with its living room charm. The actors are flawless and powerful. One forgets where you are while totally engaged in the stellar performances in this familiar endearing story. The audience is patient even when a resident mistakenly wanders in unexpectedly from the supposedly blocked elevator.  During the hour and a half show with no intermission, the audience is treated to a comfy, sufficient set that is made up of one elegantly worn, upholstered chair and a phone stand, Boolie’s office and, the car represented by two stools, one in front of the other. Much of the dialogue centers on the conversation in the car between the irrepressible Daisy Werthan and her driver, Hoke, who drives his aging charge to the Piggly-Wiggly and Mobile, Alabama.

You know the story. It’s about aging, friendship, trust, loyalty and love. The three actors in this production are excellent. They exude well worn theatre legs, years of professional polish and the pure joy they have in delivering a performance as good as any you’ll ever see.

Miss Daisy actors:

Dwayne Carrington – Hoke Coleburn. His credits include award winning performances in the Full Monty, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Ragtime, etc.

San Gregory – Boolie Werthan, Miss Daisy’s son. Gregory’s a familiar face in Denver where he’s appeared in 36 productions at the Denver Center Theatre Company, as well film & TV credits.

Billie McBride – Miss Daisy. McBride returns to The Barth after last year’s performance in Chasing Manet. Her Broadway credits include Torch Song Trilogy as well as numerous touring shows, Off Broadway productions, television  and the Denver Center Theatre Company. McBride was nominated for an Emmy and numerous awards throughout her career.

Equally endearing for this night, the audience was introduced to Billy Beach, one of the residents at The Barth Hotel, who gave a brief hello to the guests. Billy thanked us for our support and told us how much he loves living in The Barth Hotel. He explained his gratitude to the staff who helped him button his shirt and put on his shoes after his recent operation.

The Barth Hotel is the home to 62 low-income, elderly and disabled residents who receive quality care from a dedicated and concerned staff.

The Barth Hotel is a fine example of people helping people. Driving Miss Daisy is a benefit for Senior Housing Options in Denver’s LoDo.

Top photo: entrance to The Barth Hotel.

Union Station,  standing in front of The Barth Hotel entrance looking East at the station which brought travelers to the Queen City of the Plains.

411 on the “Jersey Boys,” at the Buell, through August 11, 2012. It’s fun, in a sing-along fashion that makes you happy. The Four Seasons‘s story is not all glitter and glory but a rags to riches music adventure about great talent and friendship. Be a part of this joyful musical. It brings back a whole lot of memories and tunes you’ll love.

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Jersey Boys Returns


Jersey Boys is one of the most fabulous Broadway shows I’ve ever seen. Some theatre goers love Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera. This show is strictly for the toe tapping, lover of musicals. You know the kind that make you smile and wish you were on the stage with the actors. It’s the show of shows. Trust me. You’ll love every song. The storyline moves fast and there is not a dull moment in the two plus hours of sheer entertainment. We are fortunate the show has returned. Take my word, you do not want to miss this again. If you saw it four years ago, well, you better get your tickets again. It is way too good to miss this summer.

Nearly 90,000 theatergoers cheered when Jersey Boys made its sell-out premiere in Denver in 2008. Worldwide, more than 12 million people have seen Jersey Boys. And now, the show that made critics and audiences cheer is “Working Its Way Back” to Denver!

Jersey Boys is the Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! Jersey Boys features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” “It will run for centuries!” proclaims Time.

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Yves Saint Laurent leaves on July 8, 2012

Yoohoo, all fashionistas…The 40 Year Retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s exquisite works are still in Denver, don’t miss it. You have until July 8th.

Yes, it’s definitely kudos for Denver and its selection as one of the premier stops on this 3-city exhibition that has traveled to Madrid, Paris and Denver.  Rarely does one get to see the up-close and personal handiwork that Yves Saint Laurent incorporated into his classic and renaissance-esque fashions. You will swill over the tuxedo wall. He designed the first formal suit for women. How did we survive before Yves, I ask? Most admirers of his couture designs have viewed them only in Neimans, Saks, books or vintage magazine fashion shoots.  It really is a must see for any one who can get to Denver. My advice ride, drive, fly, however you can get here. Honestly,  no excuse for Denverites. It is a rare glimpse of fine art from the creative mind of a skillful thoughtful artist seen through his timeless designs. This is a body of work that has put Denver on the map and it is an honor for all Colorado.


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The Addams Family at the Buell

If your children haven’t been to the Buell Theatre at the DCPA, this is one show you can take a chance on. The children in the audience loved the whacky, eccentric characters, the weird sets and costumes. It’s a family show that moves fast with laughter, toe-tapping energy.

The reviews for the Broadway show were less than glowing, but it is what it is –  a engaging musical with dance, song and creative costumes, accompanied by a silly storyline that teaches humility and acceptance to differences and change. It was delightful. Children of all ages laughed it up and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the evening’s dark and dead characters.

Gomez & Morticia


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