The fashion world has a reputation of being extremely exclusive and operating behind closed doors, and while this is generally true, there is a huge host of documentaries that give fashion fanatics the opportunity to learn more about this covetable and secret industry. Showing everything from how the biggest magazines are run, to the perosnal lives of the biggest designers. Read on for a couple of docs to watch for an insightful and informative look into the industry.
The September Issue
This was the first fashion documentary I watched, and probably the most famous, as it follows the team of American Vogue while they put together the most important magazine issue in the fashion calendar. It is also the first instance in which viewers really saw Anna Wintour in the context of being the ‘ice queen’ that inspired Meryl Streep’s depiction Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada. Whilst Anna and her iconic bob are of course at the centre of the magazine and film, it is Andre Leon Talley and Grace Coddington that captured audiences, as their passion for creating beautiful photographs and love for clothing shines through the screen.
Iris Apfel is far from your average 98-year-old, with her signature oversized black glasses, and her arms chock-a-block with statement bangles and bracelets. Her unique dress sense has made her an icon within the industry, as she has had jobs from editorial assisting to interior decorating the White House. In this film famed documentary maker Albert Maysles follows Apfel around and probes her to share more about her extraordinary life, giving viewers a more intimate look at the witty and always fashionable businesswoman.
The First Monday in May
The first Monday in May marks another important date in the fashion calendar, as celebrities from far and wide dress to the nines and gather at the Met to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition in the fashion wing. This movie goes behind the scenes to see how Anna Wintour and her team put together this massive operation, showing everything from the politics behind seating plans to the way exhibitions come together.
Bill Cunningham New York
Long before Instagram influencers were organising photoshoots to document their outfits of the day, there was Bill Cunningham. The iconic street style photographer, beloved within the industry, spent decades cycling around New York, donning his camera and signature blue parka to snap all the trends and best dressed people on the street. Anna Wintour once said, “We all get dressed for Bill”, and you can see why when watching the energetic 80-year-old sprinting about to get the best shot, still as passionate about fashion and beautiful imagery as when he started in the 1970’s.
Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
Vivienne Westwood is arguably one of the craziest characters in fashion, heralded as one of the people at the forefront of the British punk movement. This biopic looks at how her iconic brand began, how she runs it now with her partner and the various problems that accompany running a multi-million-pound clothing brand. As the title suggests, the film looks at more than just her eponymous label, but her work in climate activism and what it was like living in London in the 70’s. Westwood herself wasn’t a fan of how the film turned out, but viewers delighted in the opportunity to learn more about one of fashions most outspoken members.