Fashion doyenne in all her glory

A FIXTURE at Harper's Bazaar and later at Vogue, Diana Vreeland was the model of an eccentric fashion editor, and looked the part: broad regal face, hair swept back, wide mouth perfect for barking out commands.

There's something marvellously comic about her, an effect reinforced by her refined yet raucous baritone voice.

You could say she was inimitable, except this new documentary (directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the wife of a grandson) features a quite accurate vocal imitation by actress Annette Miller, who delivers the ''autobiographical'' narration.

Vreeland herself, we gather, was prone to mythologising her past (did she really ride with Buffalo Bill?). But the truth is impressive enough. She discovered Lauren Bacall, promoted Twiggy, and helped shape the role of the fashion editor as we know it today. More importantly, she was a genuine wit with an irrepressible sense of fun.

The paradox is that while Vreeland was supposedly all about artifice, the woman we meet here is most likeable for her sincere enthusiasm - her gleeful way of leaping on unexpected possibilities. In one touching interview clip, she yearns to be a surfer, out on her own between the sky and the sea.

''Also, skateboards I think are great, 'great'!'' she adds - practically bellowing the last syllable. It doesn't take much imagination to see her terrifying assistants and colleagues, but it's also no mystery why they look back on her so fondly now she's gone.

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