The debonair subject of "Love, Cecil"
Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland makes her second Houston Cinema Arts Festival appearance. (Photo Anne Joyce)
"Love, Cecil" opens the ninth year of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival.
Cecil Beaton as he appears in a scene from Lisa Immordino Vreeland's documentary and accompanying book, "Love, Cecil."
Cecil Beaton's famous diaries will be narrated in the film, words and images that crackle with wit.
A worthy cinematic subject, the brilliant Brit Cecil Beaton traversed photography, painting, illustration (as shown), literary arts, set and costume design, and interiors.
Cecil Beaton's design for Audrey Hepburn in the Ascot scene from "My Fair Lady." It's no wonder Beaton nabbed Oscars for set and costume design with the 1964 classic. (Photo Cecil Beaton)
Houston Cinema Arts Festival celebrates its ninth year with an opening tonight at the MFAH sure to lure fashion, society, art, and interiors devotees for the Texas premiere of Love, Cecil. The documentary details the life of Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), one of the most remarkable creatives of the 20th century.
Filmmaker/director Lisa Immordino Vreeland is returning to Cinema Arts for her second appearance. In 2012, she screened Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011), an immersive look at the beyond iconic fashion influencer Miz Vreeland; grandson Alexander Vreeland is the filmmaker’s husband. Immordino Vreeland is also known as the cinematic chronicler of patroness extraordinaire Peggy Guggenheim, profiled in the film Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (2015).
Immordino Vreeland is every bit the match of her latest subject, the brilliant Beaton, a polymath talent who traversed many arenas, from portrait photographer — his subjects included Queen Elizabeth II, Liz Taylor (Beaton was not a fan), Greta Garbo in retirement, Picasso, Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, and Truman Capote — to a turn in Hollywood as Oscar-winning designer for Gigi (costumes) and My Fair Lady (costumes and sets).
See the 1959 Oscar in costume design bestowed for Gigi here.
And Beaton’s famous black-and-white look for Audrey Hepburn, from My Fair Lady‘s Ascot scene, inspired perhaps the greatest party of all time: Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, at the Plaza Hotel in 1966.
Then there’s Beaton the incisive diarist with observations informed by great wit, as well as bite. Or Beaton the painter, dashing off deft watercolors that record Chanel in her salon, or Eleanor Lambert, the originator of the Best Dressed List, at home in her Connecticut estate.
Finally, let’s not forget Beaton’s own celebrated interiors, including the delightful Circus Bedroom from his Ashcombe House (later owned by Madonna), a decor that Houston’s own Judge Roy Hofheinz would have approved of.
Learn more about Beaton, in Love, Cecil, told in Immordino Vreeland’s documentary via interviews with those that knew him well, both friends and foes, sampled from the art, fashion, and film worlds — David Hockney, Penelope Tree (his date at the Black and White Ball), Manolo Blahnik, Isaac Mizrahi, David Bailey, and Leslie Caron. Rupert Everett narrates, drawing upon passages from those aforementioned delicious Beaton diaries.
The evening concludes with a flourish. Immordino Vreeland will join the lustrous Lynn Wyatt in dishing about Beaton, then the director will sign her companion volume — the newly Love, Cecil: A Journey with Cecil Beaton ($50, available tonight at the MFAH).
Tonight, Thursday, November 9, 7:30 pm, Love, Cecil, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Note, cash only ($12 per ticket) at MFAH box office.
Festival passes, $99, here. Pick up paid-for passes at MFAH will call.