Full Gallop.

I was lucky to be invited to the press preview of My Own Mann’s production of Full Gallop, the one woman-play focusing on the life of famed Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. The play is written by Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton, and is set after her firing at Vogue, where she throws a dinner party in the hopes a wealthy guest will finance a magazine of her own. The inimitable Cherie Gil will take on the daunting task of portraying Vreeland.

Diana at her famous apartment, which she calls a garden in hell
The set of Full Gallop

Vreeland is one of fashion’s biggest icons, bringing a fresh and outrageous take to the industry. When she was at Harper’s Bazaar, Vreeland popularized a column called “Why Don’t You?” a list of outrageous suggestions for readers. Some famous examples are “Why don’t you turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy-dress party?” and “Why don’t you wash your blond child’s hair in dead champagne?” She took fashion so seriously that her fashion shoots were set around the world with elaborate and expensive looks.

Vreeland with Richard Avedon, with whom she would bring to Vogue after her stint at Harper’s Bazaar. At her wake, Avedon said, “I went back to Carmel Snow and said ‘I can’t work with that woman. She calls me Aberdeen.’ And Carmel Snow said, ‘You’re going to work with her.’ And I did, to my enormous benefit, for almost 40 years.

At Vogue, she educated readers through travel, using her lavish editorials set in Tahiti, Bali, and other exotic locales. She was fired in 1971, presumably because her shoots were expensive, one of which was estimated to have cost $1 million.

Vreeland at work
Vreeland discussing a project with Truman Capote

And Vreeland is a character. Her razor wit and penchant for storytelling is inspiring, especially so because her stories are peppered with her travels, odd experiences (like seeing a car with gorillas in tailored suits), and thoughts on color, shade, and beauty. Despite being a fashion icon, Diana doesn’t seem to be obsessed with the field. Instead, she talks much about living life. She once quipped, “It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”

Cherie Gil as Diana Vreeland

Cherie Gil lends herself well as Vreeland. She tastefully portrays the Vogue editor without resorting to caricature. Gil said so herself, after the preview, that she wanted to capture the essence of Vreeland rather than mimic her.

Gil gives a breathtaking performance, and at times touching. Only Gil could successfully bring to life a woman known for her vivacity, then switch to poignancy, and then haughty humor.

Full Gallop only has a limited run, and will be having its last two performances this week. I really hope people could go out and support Gil’s marvelous performance as “the one and only fashion editor.” Full Gallop will be staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza. Tickets may be bought at Ticketworld.

Here is my complete review on When In Manila.

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