Cutting comments

Lisa Immordino Vreeland on Katharine Hepburn, Coco Chanel and Cecil Beaton

by Anne-Katrin Titze

‪Lisa Immordino Vreeland‬ presented ‪Love, Cecil‬ at Sotheby's in New York
‪Lisa Immordino Vreeland‬ presented ‪Love, Cecil‬ at Sotheby's in New York Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

On a stormy spring Saturday night, Art Agency, Partners and Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber hosted a reception and preview screening of Love, Cecil at Sotheby's in New York.

Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the director of Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, presented her documentary on Cecil Beaton (Best Costumes Oscar for George Cukor's My Fair Lady and a Tony, presented by Julie Andrews, for Coco, starring Katharine Hepburn as Coco Chanel) narrated by Rupert Everett and edited by Bernadine Colish (Absolute Wilson).

Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts - Coco on Broadway, costumes by Cecil Beaton
Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts - Coco on Broadway, costumes by Cecil Beaton Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Through on-camera interviews with David Hockney, Leslie Caron, Isaac Mizrahi, Hamish Bowles, Manolo Blahnik, David Bailey and Penelope Tree, and terrific archival footage, including an exchange between Truman Capote and Diana Vreeland on their take on Cecil Beaton, we learn a great deal about the photographer, costume and set designer and his complicated personal life, including Greta Garbo.

Cecil Beaton had contentious relationships with a number of people, among them, George Cukor and Katharine Hepburn.

Following the screening on the evening of Katharine Hepburn's birthdate, I asked Lisa Immordino Vreeland about the timing of the very cutting remarks we hear in Love, Cecil from Cecil Beaton about the star of Coco.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Today [May 12] happens to be Katharine Hepburn's 111th birthday. Cecil Beaton had some harsh words about her. Calling her a "freckled", "heartless", "dried-out boot." When did he say that? Was that before their collaboration on Coco or after?

Lisa Immordino Vreeland: I actually think that was before Coco. I'm going to be honest, I don't quite remember. But I can tell you one thing about Coco. When she decided to be on it … She wasn't that good on it, let's be honest. She wasn't. There's only one Coco Chanel.

She had a special request in her contract that any photo he took she had to approve. So he must have said it all before. She had really had it out with him already. And in anything that he designed costume-wise she had changes. So she was just pushing him to the limit. So I do think he said all those things before.

Love, Cecil opens in the US on June 29.

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