10 essential fashion documentaries

Interested in expanding your knowledge about the fashion industry and its most illustrious names? Watching documentaries is a good way to do so, which is why FashionUnited has coined a list of 10 non-fiction films every fashion student, professional or aficionado should watch.

Dior and I (2014)

A behind-the-scenes look at Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as Dior’s new Creative Director. Simons only had 8 weeks to get everything done, without previous haute couture experience. The designer remained at Dior’s creative helm until 2016.

The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (2017)

Manolo Blahnik is hailed as “the king of shoes” by the likes of Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour, who said in the film she can’t even remember the last time she wore anyone else’s shoes. Directed by British fashion writer Michael Roberts, Blahnik’s lifelong friend, this documentary is a must-see for anyone interested in shoemaking.

The True Cost (2015)

American filmmaker Andrew Morgan travels all over the world to find out how the clothes offered by fast fashion chains are made. Who are the people behind what we wear? By interviewing several actors in the supply chain, the film asks us to consider who really pays the price for our cheap clothing.

Read more: Review: The ‘True Cost’ of the Fast Fashion Illusion: How something So Cheap Can Make Us Feel So Rich?

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

"The best fashion show is on the street. Always has been, always will be”, said the late New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who was obsessed with documenting the way people dress. However, Bill himself seemed rather untouched by the trends we was so eager to capture, choosing to live a simple life instead. With interviews from friends such as Tom Wolfe and Anna Wintour, Bill Cunningham New York beautifully captures the photographer’s passion for his work and his city.

The September Issue (2009)

Those interested in fashion journalism should also make sure to watch The September Issue, a documentary offering unprecedented access to the making of Vogue Magazine’s most important issue of the year. Interestingly, the magazine depicted in the movie (September 2007, which ran over 800 pages and weighted more than 5 pounds) is still Vogue’s best selling September issue to date.

Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989)

German filmmaker Wim Wenders ponders about the nature of identity, art and fashion as he captures Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto’s creative process while preparing for a fashion show in Paris.

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary (2009)

Is modelling as glamorous as it seems? Model Sara Ziff takes an autobiographical charting of her career, as well as that of her peers. With several candid interviews, this film offers a glimpse of the industry from within. Ziff later went on to found Model Alliance, a non-profit organization campaigning for better working conditions for models.

Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

Valentino Garavani, one of the world’s most famous fashion designers, announced his retirement in 2007, almost 50 years after founding his eponymous label. “Valentino: The Last Emperor” looks back at the designer’s career as he prepares for his farewell fashion show.

The First Monday in May (2015)

Every year, on the first monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum in New York hosts a gala dinner for everyone who’s anyone in the fashion world. It is one of the most important events for the fashion industry. Directed by Andrew Rossi, this film documents the preparations for the 2015 gala, which had pop star Rihanna as its host.

The Machinists (2010)

Meet three female garment workers and the boss of a fledgling trade union in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Although the film was made before the Rana Plaza disaster, it does give a human face to the incident. “Once you start working garments, you’re trapped, it’s no different to being in a prison”, said one of the women depicted.

Picture: The True Cost Website


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