It’s no secret that the fashion industry has been the subject of many films, both documentary and fiction, over the years, but it’s often difficult to tell which one’s are worth the Netflix search or the iTunes rental. The following is a list of must-watch fashion documentaries that cover everything from the famous Met Gala to Vogue’s illustrious September Issue to an inside look at the life of the late Bill Cunningham, and they are all well worth pencilling into your schedule!
The September Issue
As its name suggests, this 2009 documentary goes behind-the-scenes of the making of the world’s most renowned magazine’s most important issue. The September Issue gives viewers unprecedented and largely unfiltered access to the inner workings of Vogue, as Anna Wintour and her flock of minions compose the biggest magazine of 2007. Although seeing the iconic editor-in-chief hard at work is certainly interesting, it is editor Grace Coddington who steals the show. Together, the duo’s obvious and genuine passion and love for the magazine provide the documentary’s audience with proof that American Vogue isn’t all that The Devil Wears Pradamakes it out to be.
In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye
A few years after the successful release of The September Issue, the American Vogue editors graced screens across the world once more with In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, a commemorative documentary for the magazine’s 120th anniversary. Unlike the previous film, though, this documentary focuses on the making of Vogue’s most famous editorials rather than on a single issue. In addition to the editors, many big names who have helped contribute to the magazine’s legacy make an appearance, with its most notable interviews happening with Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesquiére, and Hollywood stars like Sarah Jessica Parker. In Vogue: The Editor’s Eyeis a contemporary insight into the world’s most important fashion magazine, as its leading editors peek inside its crucial legacy.
The First Monday in May
The First Monday in May, a September Issue-style documentary that gives an in-depth look at the 2015 China-inspired Met Gala and fashion exhibit. Giving viewers an inside peek inside the industry’s most exclusive night, director Andrew Rossi’s film highlights the cooperation, and at times clashes, between Anna Wintour and her following and The Met bigwigs. It is indeed Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Met’s Costume Insitute, who shines in this documentary, though. A genuinely lovely man with an enviable amount of patience, Bolton’s passion for art and fashion is tangible. The First Monday in May is rich with behind-the-scenes looks into the biggest event of the fashion calendar and is well worth a watch for any fashion or art aficionado.
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s
This documentary, based on the bestselling book, covers all that is the Fifth Avenue emporium that is Bergdorf Goodman. The Olsen twins, Vera Wang, and Tom Ford are just a few of the many big names to be interviewed in this fascinating documentary. From a deep look at the iconic store’s history to a glimpse into the process of creating its famed Christmas window displays, Scatter My Ashes is the perfect film for anyone looking to run away to the city that never sleeps and get lost in one of its most incredible places.
Dior and I
Dior and I follows newly appointed artistic director Raf Simons as he designs his debut collection for the Parisian fashion house in just eight short weeks. The film has an obvious focus on Raf and the high-pressured, stressful journey to his first runway show, but it pays delightful and unexpected homage to the usually forgotten seamstresses who make his designs a beautiful reality.
Valentino: The Last Emperor
Valentino Garavani, one of the industry’s most legendary and celebrated designers, announced his retirement in 2007, nearly fifty years after founding his fashion house. Valentino: The Last Emperor explores the personal and professional life of Garavani, paying particular tribute to his brilliant designs as he prepares his final collection. The film also gives viewers a rare glimpse into the designer’s relationship with Giancarlo Giammetti, his long-term partner in both business and life.
Women He’s Undressed
Unknown to those both those who are sartorially inclined and those who are not, Orry-Kelly, the subject of Women He’s Undressed, was an Australian-American costume designer to Hollywood’s biggest stars from the 1930s to 60s. The man behind some of the most iconic films and the biggest names in Hollywood, Orry-Kelly’s work can be seen in Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, and An American in Paris, to name a few. This documentary, though off the beaten path, follows his amazing career, his friendships with Bette Davis, Cary Grant, and the like, and shows what it was like to be a gay man in Hollywood at the time.
Iris Apfel, instantly recognizable to any fashionista, thanks to her signature oversized sunglasses and New York accent, is the subject of this fantastic 2014 documentary. Seen as one of New York’s foremost style icons, Iris, at the ripe age of 95, is sartorially outspoken, unbelievably energetic, free-spirited, and wildly business savvy. Iris, through its detailed portrait of the seasoned icon, reminds viewers that, at the end of the day, fashion is fleeting but style truly is eternal.
Bill Cunningham New York
Bill Cunningham New York takes a close look at the day-to-day life of late photographer and longtime New York Times contributor Bill Cunningham. The “OG” streetstyle photographer, Cunningham made a name for himself by snapping New York’s most fashionable and speeding around the city on his signature bicycle. He was highly regarded within and by the industry and loved by all, and as Anna Wintour says in the film, “we all get dressed for Bill.”
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
Long before editors were personalities and bloggers and streetstyle stars dictated trends, there was one queen of fashion: Diana Vreeland, the Vogue and Haper’s Bazaar editor who brought the fashion industry into the modern era during the 1960s. This documentary tells the biography of her life, from teenage socialite to Vogue editor-in-chief, and details just how she became one of the industry’s most important icons. Diana Vreeland The Eye Has to Travel is a must-watch for anyone interested in the making of the modern-day fashion industry and is not to be missed by anyone who looks unto mid-century glamour and design with a tinge of nostalgia.
Crazy About Tiffany’s
Taking its name from the memorable Breakfast at Tiffany’s line, Crazy About Tiffany’s is the ultimate biography of the legendary Fifth Avenue jewelry company. From the director of Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, Crazy About Tiffany’s provides a detailed history of the establishment, from its 1837 founding as a high-end stationary store to its 1866 creation of the modern engagement ring. Soon, however, Tiffany & Co.’s history takes a backseat to the store’s cultural impact, which is described by the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Rachel Zoe, Fran Liebowitz, and Jessica Biel. The documentary is a romantic love letter to the iconic retailer and is worth a watch by any jewelry or cinema buff.
Written by GABBY SHACKNAI
Visual Editor JUAN JOSÉ LOAIZA