When it comes to documentaries, Netflix has them all. From crime to culture, history to art, but for us fashionistas, the documentaries surrounding the world we obsess and love are the ones that we add to our lists, the ones that we blog about and the ones that inspire us to write, to take photos of amazing style in the streets and even want to design and make our own clothes. So, I thought it would be a good idea to compile and share with you ten of my favourite fashion documentaries that have inspired me, given me something to think about and has left me at the end of the closing credits thinking to myself "this is why I love fashion".
And so I begin with an inside look into the world created by the legendary Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani. A fashion designer that is beloved by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace, Anna Wintour and countless clients and celebrities that have sported his legendary designs on the catwalk and red carpets alike. The documentary gives us an inside, behind the scenes look into the dramatic retirement of Valentino as he comes to the end of his fifty-year career, and tells the story of his relationship with his business and long term partner Giancarlo Giammetti. A beautiful story celebrating his career with a party to outshine all parties, and of course an exhibition in Italy documenting and showcasing his best work from his detailed and beautiful craft.
This documentary from the BBC follows and depicts what really happens to all of the beautiful handmade clothes of the very exclusive and high-end fashions that are known as 'haute couture' in Paris. It features an inside look at a very secret club of ladies that are invited to every haute couture catwalk show and even allows us to get an inside look into some of their personal wardrobes, sporting clothes that are worth quite literally thousands and thousands of pounds, from designs such as Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Step into the world of American Vogue and follow the daily lives of fashion legends Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, as they show us how they build and create the biggest and most important issue of the entire fashion year: the September issue. Alongside André Leon Talley, Hamish Bowles and photographer Mario Testino we get an inside look at how Grace Coddington (former model now turned creative director for the magazine) shoots some of the biggest trends for the season and styles some of the most amazing looks I've ever seen for a magazine and has to overcome the harsh critique of Anna Wintour's watchful eye. The documentary also gives us a small look and inside into how Wintour and Coddington became interested in fashion and how they got started in the industry, starting the same day as each other at the magazine some thirty odd years ago.
These small documentaries (featured on British Vogue's YouTube page) follow fashion 'it' girl Alexa Chung, as she gives us a look at a few different sides of some of the people working in the British And American fashion industry. From students graduating from university and their professors & course leaders, to people working in trend forecasting to the editors and writers of British Vogue and even some big designers in the fashion industry, she pretty much covers everyone in the industry. She covers subjects such as 'how to get a job at Vogue', 'how PR works' and 'how to get into fashion journalism' among many other topics and tips & tricks about how to get into the industry, and how to get noticed. It's the perfect little series of documentaries if you're a student/blogger/fashion lover and you want to break into the fashion industry, and just need that little push to break yourself in there.
Lee Alexander McQueen is probably one of the most respected and beloved fashion designers in the history of the industry. His sudden death in 2010 was a shock not only to those who work in fashion but to the creative world as a whole. 'McQueen And I' is a beautiful inside look at the rise of the talented and wacky designer, from his first catwalk show out of University, to his last collection 'Pluto Atlantis' and everything else in-between. It depicts his relationship with the legendary Isabella Blow and shows also how she came to bring him into the spotlight for his talent at being able to create and make some of the most beautiful clothes, catwalk shows and designs that have quite possibly ever been made in the last century within the fashion industry.
This inside look takes us on a trip with creative director Raf Simons as he designs and creates his first ever haute couture collection for the legendary French fashion house Dior. It shows us the highs and lows of not only the pressure for Raf himself for his first collection but for his team of ateliers who work (quite literally) up to the very last second to make sure that every dress, coat, bag and look is completed to the up most highest of standards to be presented to the likes of celebrities, fashion editors, photographers and of course, the big bosses themselves on the catwalk (well in this case, a beautiful series of rooms decorated ceiling to floor in French flowers).
This ever expanding mini-series on Chanel's YouTube channel, gives us a look on the inside to the different territories that make up and showcase the very best of different elements and history within the house of Chanel. From the colours to the jewels, the little black jacket to the Rue Cambon, the fabrics, the haute couture and even to the fine details of the huge production staged shows off its catwalks. It takes us on a journey of each of the critical elements that make up everything that the French house is legendary and loved for. A must watch for every Chanel lover.
They say in New York "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" and that certainly is true for one of New York's finest luxury department stores Bergdorf Goodman. From Chanel to Dior, McQueen to Burberry, Versace to Armani and Vera Wang to Marc Jacobs, this store houses the world's most luxurious and most beloved designer brands that money can buy. The documentary follows several of the store's most important figureheads, as they show us their roles in the day to day running of the store. Linda Fargo is one of the most important employees within the store, giving that she decides which designers will make it onto the rails for their customers to buy. Within the documentary, she is also shown working with some of the fashion industry's most beloved people, including Anna Wintour, Iris Apfel and Bill Cunningham. Other elements of the documentary show how window displays are put together with the genius visual merchandising team and their leader David Hoey, right through to its best personal shoppers (look out for Betty Halreich, she's the kind of woman you want to go shopping with because of her brutal honesty). The documentary is a triumph, not only to the store but to the fashion industry in general, because it showcases some of the world's most talented designers, visual merchandisers and creative individuals who probably quite literally strut to work in the morning. I mean with a job in Bergdorf Goodman, I know I would.
For over fifty years of his life, Bill Cunningham took street style photography photos of anyone and everyone on the streets of New York City, until his recent death in 2016. From fashion enthusiasts to models, creative individuals to drag queens, New York City socialites to even Anna Wintour herself. But his motto wasn't to take pictures of 'important people', his motto was "it's all about the clothes and the story they tell about the person who's wearing them. I don't care who's wearing them, I'd sooner take pictures of stylish people than celebrities that I have no interest in". One of the things I admired so much about Bill's work, was his ability to really capture that human essence and natural look within his photographs. More often than not, he would quite literally stand in the middle of traffic, interrupt any conversations he was having or just snap anyone that he deemed 'stylish' (anything for that perfect picture). His dedication and passion for the industry is undoubtedly well captured within the film and is a credit to his memory and his work. So, Bill, I hope you're up there somewhere still doing what you love best because you know what, you were absolutely fabulous at it.
Iris Apfel is one (if not the) most famous women in New York and probably within the fashion industry because of her unique, wonderful and eccentric style. She started out in the interior design industry over fifty years ago, which allowed her to travel and see, quite literally, the entire world. Alongside her interior design work, she picked up fabulous fashions and clothes from many regions and countries with some of the wackiest and in your face patterns and textures, known to mankind. The documentary also shows some of her more personal and working life, from her marriage to long time husband Karl Apfel to a collaboration with makeup giants MAC, a window display honouring her style at legendary department store Bergdorf Goodman and a look into how three of Americas top museums put a small sample of her clothes in a wonderful exhibition for the public to gaze and be amazed over. I think for me, what I love most about the documentary is how much it shows Iris's love and appreciation for everything she has in her life. Not just the clothes (which are of course, fabulous), but of everything she has and everything she had achieved in her life. To which I think, if I can look back on my life at her age and smile with as much happiness as she does throughout the film, I know I'll have had a wonderful life, filled with the most wonderful and heart warming experiences to be treasured forever.
I said earlier on in my article that this list was my ten favourite fashion documentaries of all time, but I simply could not leave this one out as it has to be my favourite of them all. 'Advanced Style' follows the life of fashion photographer Ari Seth Cohen on his quest to photograph and document the amazing style of everyday people on the streets of New York, but with a twist. The twist being that all of the people he photographs are all over the age of fifty years old. I was so amazed by the confidence that these ladies had that I went out (almost immediately) and purchased his book, and fell in love with the ladies from it (especially Iris Apfel). The documentary proves that style has no age, and also goes to show that no matter who we are as human beings, we can all look good regardless of sex, colour, where we come from or how much money we have, and is, in my opinion . . . a triumph for the fashion industry, for the ladies themselves and of course, for Ari.
So, do you agree with my list? Have I missed out your favourite fashion documentary? Let me know in the comments below and as always, let's be social: