Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Words by Chloe Sutherland
As we all find ourselves working from home or at least staying indoors more often, we are spending majority of our time glued to our screens. I have countless TV shows and movies that I have been planning to watch but never found the time; now here I am with unlimited time in front of me and I don’t even know where to start. It seems as if life has been put on pause, but let’s not let this dim our inspiration, creativity, or passion. I have spent the last week exploring all of the fashion documentaries that I have been wanting to watch, and here I have curated a list of my favourites and explored why I think they’re worth the watch.
DIOR AND I (2014)
This stunning documentary follows Raf Simons from his first day as Creative Director of Dior and throughout his next eight weeks in which he must create his first ever haute couture collection for the historic brand. The film immerses you in the whimsical world of haute couture and you’re given a once in a lifetime all access pass into Dior’s iconic Paris atelier. From Raf Simons struggling with the concept of following in the footsteps of Mr Christian Dior, to the dedicated team of seamstresses that are undeniably the backbone of the collection, to the eventual breath taking A/W 2012/13 runway show, this documentary will leave you with a whole new level of appreciation for the House of Dior. I loved how attached I felt to this brief moment in fashion history, and by the end scene my heart was beating out of my chest as if somehow, I was as invested in this collection as Raf Simons himself. Magical.
Think ‘Dior and I’ but add a whole lot of camp, chaos, and supermodel. ‘Unzipped’ follows Isaac Mizrahi, a larger than life character, as he creates his Fall 1994 ready to wear collection. In the opening scene you are confronted with Isaac finding out that his last collection was received poorly by fashion critics, and subsequently the rest of the documentary is focused on Mizrahi redeeming himself and his brand. With cameos from Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington, this film packs a punch and is reminiscent of a fashion era you may not have even been alive to witness (1997 baby over here). The final runway show is filled with drama and extravaganza and it’s certainly not to be missed. If this film doesn’t make you want to move to New York in the 90s and become a part of Mizrahi’s social clique I don’t know what will. An explosion of frantic fun, fabulous fashion, and reinvention, ‘Unzipped’ is the perfect feel good fashion documentary.
So, I may be slipping a few documentaries under my third choice but it’s all for a good cause. The institution that is Vogue have created some extremely insightful documentaries throughout their time and I believe that some of them are a must see for anyone interested in fashion.‘
Vogue Australia: 60 Years Behind the Lens’ is a great reminder that although we may be distracted by the international bright lights, Australian fashion does have a history and it’s incredibly important that those who want to work in this industry are knowledgeable of it.‘In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye’ dissects the role of Fashion Editor and all that it entails. This documentary pours through the images that have defined fashion since the creation of Vogue, and interviews previous influential Fashion Editors from the 1960s until now.
And lastly ‘The Future of Fashion with Alexa Chung’ and really anything that Chung has filmed with Vogue in general. ‘The Future of Fashion’ explores different aspects of the fashion industry and all of the jobs that are involved that you may have never considered. Chung’s wit and charm makes you feel comfortable as ever as she asks all of the questions you would be too nervous to ask. With interviews from fashion buyers, fashion students, designers, PR directors, stylists, and fashion forecasters, no stone is left unturned. As if the power of Alexa Chung and British Vogue are not enough, Christopher Kane, Simon Porte Jacquemus, and Olivier Rousteing also make appearances as well. This series was so popular with Vogue’s audience that a second season was created, so there is now over 2 hours of footage for your fashion viewing pleasure. I will also make a note that since this documentary series came out 5 years ago, I still watch it at least once a year to give myself inspiration and also because it’s simply an entertaining watch.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRE (2017)
It’s ok to admit that the only reason you previously knew André Leon Talley was because you used to be a big fan of America’s Next Top Model... or is that just me? Nevertheless, this extremely personal documentary follows one of the most influential fashion curators of recent times. His role as Editor At Large at Vogue is not even one of the main focuses of the film, as we explore deeper into his journey of how he came to be the oracle that he is today. Between his roots of growing up in the segregated south, to dealing with racism within the fashion industry, and how he pushed for African American representation within fashion media, this documentary goes far beyond pieces of clothing. André is a character that is impossible to dislike, and you can see why the likes of Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Anna Wintour, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Manolo Blahnik flocked to be a part of the commentary for the film. One of the many highlights for me was seeing the close friendship between André and pre-Chanel Karl Lagerfeld in the 70s and how willing the perceived ‘cold’ Lagerfeld was to take Andre under his wing.‘The Gospel According to Andre’ is a documentary that puts the seemingly frivolous world of fashion into perspective.
THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY (2016)
Mention Rihanna, and I’m in. The notorious MET Gala is a spectacle that even the non-fashion inclined are drawn to, “people underestimate the power of clothes to tell stories”. As the title suggests, the Met Gala is held annually on ‘The First Monday in May’, and although unfortunately this year’s gala is not going forward, we have this documentary to revel in. The 2015 exhibition ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ was the Metropolitan Museum of Art's most attended fashion exhibition in history, with over 800,000 visitors in its short time period. This film delves into the exhibition’s conception, to the meticulous planning involved in not only the exhibition but the gala itself, with behind the scenes footage of the ever so private event, and to its eventual images spread across the glossy pages of Vogue. ‘The First Monday In May’ explores the question is fashion art? And if so, are there any limits? My favourite quote from the movie is ‘the Met Gala is not a commercial consideration, it’s a cultural consideration’, and it’s incredibly fascinating to watch how the exhibition aims to deconstruct stereotypes of colonialism and orientalism. This documentary is a worthwhile watch for those who are interested in the MET Gala from a public relations perspective, or for the creation and execution of the event, or even for the glitz and glamour that occurs when “pop meets fine arts”. If you weren’t intimidated by the power and legacy behind Anna Wintour, you certainly will be by the end of the film.
And so, I conclude my list in the hopes of bringing you some light-hearted documentary suggestions to keep you entertained in the foreseeable future. Although the current climate is scary and can be overwhelming, it’s important to me that I take some time to switch off the news and tune into something that I am passionate about whilst also brushing up on my fashion knowledge. Please let me know if you enjoyed any of the above documentaries or if you have any other suggestions for me to dive into, as it seems as though I have plenty of time on my hands right about now. All of the documentaries listed are available on Amazon Prime, with the exception of the Vogue series which can be found on YouTube.