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A top 30 best fashion movies of all times and a must-watch to everyone interested in the world of fashion.
A highly-curated selection of top 30 best fashion movies of all times, with the aim of keeping you inspired, motivated, and most of all, entertained.
You’ll discover how Anna made Vogue the iconic fashion magazine of today, the rise of McQueen, and the creative madness of Westwood.
You’ll also brush up on some fashion history with the houses of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, and Coco Chanel.
Without further ado, here we go with the top 30 best fashion movies of all times!
2018. Documentary. 1h 51m.
A personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
McQueen, the designer, has started creating in his teens before getting noticed and working as a designer for Givenchy.
Shortly after, he launched his own label, which continues to this day.
Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, ‘McQueen’ is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary who took his own life in 2010.
A must-see for all fashion lovers.
2. The First Monday in May
2016. Documentary. 1h 30m.
‘The First Monday in May’ follows the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most attended fashion exhibition in history:
“China: Through The Looking Glass,” an exploration of Chinese-inspired Western fashions organised by MET’s Costume Institute curator, Andrew Bolton.
With unprecedented access, filmmaker Andrew Rossi captures the collision of high fashion and celebrity at the Met Gala, at one of the biggest global fashion events chaired by the Vogue editor in chief, Anna Wintour.
Featuring a cast of renowned artists in many fields (including filmmaker Wong Kar Wai and fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano) as well as a host of contemporary pop icons like Rihanna, the movie dives into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art.
3. Mademoiselle C
2013. Documentary. 1h 33m.
As the editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris for 10 years, from 2001 to January 31, 2011, Carine Roitfeld has built a reputation as one of fashion’s most influential movers.
Her inner circle of friends includes Versace, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Mario Testino, Riccardo Tisci, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Alexander Wang.
Yet few people outside the fashion world have heard of her…until now.
‘Mademoiselle C’ chronicles Carine’s resignation from Conde Nast, and the launch of her new magazine ‘CR Fashion Book’.
The movie gives a rare inside glimpse at the inner workings of Roitfeld’s professional world and personal life.
It is a film about transition, letting the audience follow as Carine moves to New York, starts a new business, and prepares to become a grandmother.
A movie filled with models, celebrities, and eccentric personalities that make the world of fashion so entertaining.
4. Yves Saint Laurent
2014. Drama/LGBT. 1h 50m.
‘Yves Saint Laurent’ is a French biographical drama based on the life of Yves Saint Laurent from 1958.
The movie picks up with Saint Laurent as a 21-year-old nervy and tortured by self-doubt boy.
It’s 1957 and he’s the new head designer of France’s biggest fashion house, Christian Dior.
A couple of years later, he suffers a mental breakdown after being bullied about his sexuality and forced to fight in the Algerian war.
As Saint Laurent battles coke addiction and depression, Pierre Bergé appears; businessman, he becomes YSL bodyguard, business partner, and boyfriend.
*To those of you interested in YSL, the 2010 ‘L’Amour Fou’, is another documentary I recommend you watch.
5. Valentino: The Last Emperor
2008. Documentary. 1h 36m.
Famed Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani opened his first fashion house in 1959.
In 2007, Valentino announced his retirement plans and began preparing for his final show.
This documentary follows Valentino during the last two years of his time as a designer, accompanied by Giancarlo Giammetti, his patient partner in both business and life.
As Valentino gets ready to conclude his fashion career, he worries about ‘corporate intentions’ to buy his clothing line.
6. Prêt-à-Porter – Ready to wear
1994. Comedy/Satire. 2h 13m.
‘Prêt-à-Porter’, released in the US as Ready to Wear, is a 1994 American satirical comedy-drama film.
Co-written, directed, and produced by Robert Altman, the movie was shot on location, during the Paris Fashion Week.
As models, designers and journalists gather for Paris Fashion Week, Fashion Council head Olivier de la Fontaine chokes to death on a sandwich.
Olivier leaves behind a wife, a mistress, and a mysterious Russian companion who has fled the scene.
As the death is being investigated, three rival magazine editors vie for the exclusive services of a trendy photographer while two journalists begin a hotel room tryst.
The film features a host of international stars, models, and designers such as Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Kim Basinger, Lauren Bacall, Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Anouk Aimée, and Sally Kellerman.
7. The Devil Wears Prada
2006. Comedy/Drama. 1h 50m.
The naive, just-graduated in journalism, Andrea Sachs lands a job in New York as a second assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of ‘Runway’ fashion magazine.
Miranda Priestly is a merciless executive; powerful, sophisticated, ruthless, and demanding, she’s unstoppable.
Emily, the first assistant advises Andrea about the outrageous preferences and strange behaviour of their cruel boss.
At the same time, Nigel, a fashion stylist, helps Andrea to dress more adequately for the environment.
In time, Andrea’s attitude and behaviour begin to change, affecting her private life.
At stake is her the relationship with her boyfriend Nate, family and friends.
But, step by step, Andrea learns that life is made of choices.
8. Coco Avant Chanel – Coco Before Chanel
2009. Romance/Drama. 1h 51m.
Young Coco Chanel (Audrey Tautou) works as a seamstress by day and a cabaret entertainer by night.
This is where Coco meets a wealthy heir (Benoît Poelvoorde), becomes his fashion consultant and lover.
Tired of the flowery hats, tight corsets and yards of lace that define women’s fashion, Coco uses her lover’s clothing as a starting point to distil an elegant and sophisticated line of women’s clothing that propels her to the top of Parisian haute couture.
In a mixture of brutal candour and tender sympathy, ‘Coco Before Chanel’ charts the rise of an ambitious but difficult woman.
9. Dior and I
2014. Documentary/LGBT. 1h 30m.
On the surface, Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary suggests an advertorial for the house of Dior (owned by the massive conglomerate LVMH).
Intriguing quotes from legendary founder Christian Dior are deployed to paint Raf Simons, the new artistic director, as a worthy successor.
The film is about Simons, an affable Belgian who befuddles the staff by asking to be called Raf, and his relationship with the Dior studio where the clothes are sewn by hand, down to the last bead.
‘Dior and I’ gives us a glimpse into the life of the seamstresses and cutters, artists in their own right.
It is a deeply touching movie, showcasing a face of Dior from behind a curtain, just like the model that parades in a stunning dress and says, “I’m going to cry, it’s so beautiful.”
10. The September Issue
2009. Documentary. 1h 30m.
This excellent documentary by R J Cutler follows Anna Wintour, the renowned editor of ‘Vogue’, as she prepares to launch Vogue’s September 2007 issue.
Weighing in at a record 840 pages, this edition is the magazine’s most important release, heralding the autumn fashions.
With a trademark bob and omnipresent dark glasses, as she carefully supervises each page of the magazine, Wintour comes across as a successful woman that knows exactly what the readers want.
The documentary has little to say about fashion and a lot about the ins and outs of media publishing and the workings of a magazine, through the lens of its notoriously demanding meanie-in-chief, Anna Wintour.
See how Anna fights to maintain the brand she has brilliantly cultivated since taking over the editorial masthead in 1988.
11. The True Cost
2015. Documentary/Drama. 1h 32m.
Directed by Andrew Morgan, this unique documentary focuses on fast fashion.
The director reveals several aspects of the garment industry from production, from the life of low-wage workers in developing countries to the after-effects such as river and soil pollution, pesticide contamination, disease and death.
With an approach that looks at environmental, social and psychological aspects, Andrew examines consumerism and mass media, ultimately linking them to global capitalism.
The documentary is a collage of several interviews with environmentalists, garment workers, factory owners, and people organising fair trade companies or promoting sustainable clothing production.
12. Fresh Dressed
2015. Documentary/Musical. 1h 30m.
A fascinating chronicle of hip-hop, urban fashion, and the hustle that brought oversized pants and graffiti-drenched jackets from Orchard Street to high fashion’s catwalks and word’s shopping malls.
Director Sacha Jenkins’ music-drenched history draws from a rich mix of archival materials and in-depth interviews with rappers, designers, and other industry insiders.
The documentary is featuring many contemporary celebrities such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Nas, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz, Damon Dash, Andre Leon Talley, A$AP Rocky, Marc Ecko, Big Daddy Kane, Kid ‘N Play & many others.
13. Bill Cunningham New York
2010. Documentary. 1h 24m.
Bill Cunningham, one of the mainstays of the New York Times, has been a contributor to the renowned newspaper for many decades.
The documentary is an exhaustive profile of Bill Cunningham and his work.
It includes interviews with friends, and often his subjects such as Tom Wolfe, David Rockefeller, and Vogue’s Anna Wintour.
It also offers an in-depth look at the life of the eccentric chronicler of fashion, tirelessly snapping photos of and writing about interestingly attired celebrities or ordinary people he encounters on the street of New Yorker.
14. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
2011. Documentary. 1h 32m.
‘Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel’ is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the 20th century, an enduring icon whose influence changed the face of fashion, beauty, art, publishing, and culture, forever.
Diana Vreeland’s life is presented from her early days in Paris, to her work as a columnist and magazine editor, and to her role as a curator of a fashion museum.
There are lots to learn from the ex-editor-in-chief of Vogue, fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar – where she worked for 25 years, and her remarkable stints at the Met’s Costume Institute where she helped popularise historical collections.
15. Franca: Chaos and Creation
2016. Documentary. 1h 20m.
A creation by Francesco Carrozzini, this is a chronicle of the life and times of his mother, Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue and a fashion-world provocateur.
From the legendary “Black Issue” and the “Plastic Surgery issue” Sozzani remains deeply committed to exploring subject matter off-limits to most in order to shake up the status quo and occasionally redefine the concept of beauty.
With interviews from Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Courtney Love and many others, Carrozzini gives us a ‘behind the scenes’ view into his mother’s creative process as well as peek into her vulnerabilities, both past and present.
Deeply insightful and often emotional this film is like a love letter from a son to his mother.
16. Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
2018. Documentary. 1h 24m.
Since igniting the punk movement with ex-partner and Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, Dame Vivienne Westwood has been redefining British fashion for over 40 years.
Blending archival footage and insightful interviews, a unique portrait of Vivienne emerges and her fascinating network of collaborators.
The documentary is taking viewers on Vivienne’s journey, from a childhood in postwar Derbyshire to the runways of Paris and Milan, and to the designer responsible for creating many of the most distinctive looks of our times.
2017. Documentary. 1h 33m.
A unique documentary exploring the intense passion and distinctive talent that make Dries Van Noten one of the most exquisite fashion designers in the world.
For the first time ever, Dries Van Noten allows a filmmaker to accompany him in his creative process and rich home life, and his emblematic fashion shows that have become ‘cult-like events’ at the Parisian Fashion week.
The precise steps taken by s Dries to conceive his collections, the choice for rich fabrics, embroidery and printmaking were closely documented by Reiner Holzemer for an entire year.
The result is an excellent film that offers an insight into the life, mind and creative heart of a Master Fashion Designer who, for more than 25 years, has remained independent in a landscape of fashion consolidation and globalisation.
18. The Gospel According To André
2017. Documentary. 1h 34m.
Gospel According to André is Kate Novack’s intimate portrait on André Leon Talley, one of the most influential tastemakers and fashion curators of our times.
The documentary takes the viewers on an emotional journey from André’s roots growing up in the segregated Jim Crow South to become a fixture in the world of fashion.
Weaving together a wealth of archival footage from the most glamorous moments in fashion history with André’s poignant reflections on his life and career, ‘The Gospel According to André’ is a cinematic monument to one of the most unique figures of 20th Century American culture.
Featuring commentary from fashion luminaries including Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, ‘The Gospel According to André’ is an indispensable addition to the growing canon of fashion documentary.
19. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s
2013. Documentary. 1h 34m.
Bergdorf Goodman Inc. is a luxury department store located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, and one of the most mythic all-American fashion emporiums.
The place of many ultimate fashion fantasies, Bergdorf Goodmans’ iconic Manhattan department store is now part of the history of fashion.
‘Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s’ grants the audience with a rarified chance to peek behind the store’s backroom doors.
It is exclusive access into the fascinating inner workings and untold fabulous stories of Giorgio Armani, Candice Bergen, Manolo Blahnik, Isaac Mizrahi and many other giants of fashion.
1995. Documentary/Comedy. 1h 13m.
This behind-the-scenes documentary takes a lighthearted look at the fashion industry through the launch of New York City designer Isaac Mizrahi’s 1994 fall collection.
The film explores how Mizrahi drew inspiration from Eskimos and ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ to create his exclusive fashion line.
The documentary also reveals the harried reality of mounting a major fashion show.
Along the way, a number of bold-faced fashion icons and actors crop up, including John Galliano to Richard Gere.
21. Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards
2017. Documentary/Drama. 1h 30m.
Longtime fashion journalist Michael Roberts presents this never-before-seen peek into Manolo Blahnik, a legendary shoe designer.
Manolo’s impeccable dedication to his craft set a fashion standard among celebrities, stylists, and industry icons.
The documentary is featuring a ‘who’s who’ of the fashion and entertainment industries, including Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Paloma Picasso, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Karlie Kloss, André Leon Tally, and more.
22. Notebook on Cities and Clothes
1989. Documentary/World cinema. 1h 21m.
The prolific German documentary director Wim Wenders takes on the Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto as he prepares to create new designs for another season in Paris.
The director investigates Yamamoto’s creative process, skill, dedication, philosophy and work, and ponders the relationship between cities, identity and the cinema in the digital age of electronic data and computerised images.
23. Lagerfeld Confidential
2007. Documentary. 1h 31m.
This documentary profiles notoriously private fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
In his own words, Lagerfeld recounts his turbulent upbringing in Germany.
Realising at 13 that he was homosexual, Lagerfeld moved to Paris as a teenager to begin his fashion career.
In between discussing his work and his views on matters from clothing to literature, Lagerfeld travels restlessly from his many homes to fashion shows and photoshoots, trailed by admirers like Nicole Kidman.
24. Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton
2007. Documentary/World cinema. 1h 22m.
From Japan to America, the LV logo dominates the fashion scene.
But, behind Louis Vuitton’s creations is one man, the exceptional Marc Jacobs.
With unprecedented access to one of the world’s hottest and busiest designers, the director offers an intimate and revealing portrait of the reclusive Marc Jacobs and the world of haute couture.
Whether in the offices and workrooms of Paris and New York, the back of his car, or backstage at a fashion show, we see a genius at work.
Jacobs endures unimaginable pressure to chart new paths in fashion as he straddles the demands of the Louis Vuitton conglomerate and his own Marc Jacobs label.
25. The Next Black
2014. Documentary. 47 mins.
‘The Next Black’ is a pivotal conversation starter in the fashion industry.
Following its premiere in 2014, the bubbling conversation around fashion sustainability has broken out of its niche confines and into mainstream consciousness.
It’s an engaging visual introduction to the ways in which fashion is using technology and innovative fabrics to transform not just how clothes are produced, but the ways in which people wear them.
Two years after its premiere, there have been huge strides, and even the most established brands are finally waking up to the commercial viability of technological solutions for eco-friendly design.
However, while ‘The Next Black’ focuses on technology and the eventual digitisation of the fashion industry and what that will mean for everyday consumers,
this documentary is more than a glamorous ode to the future of fashion.
It’s a call to arms to think about fashion beyond the next five minutes – something both consumers and industry impresarios are guilty of.
26. The Artist Is Absent: A Short Film On Martin Margiela
2015. Documentary. 12 mins.
Martin Margiela is the most elusive figure in fashion.
His work at his eponymous house, founded in 1989, is defined by his devotion to anonymity: both as a personal preference and as a creative theme, his legacy is immense and yet still shrouded in mystery.
Alison Chernick’s 12-minute documentary traces Margiela’s career and aesthetic through interviews with an assortment of industry figures.
From former boss Jean-Paul Gaultier to Vogue’s Suzy Menkes, the film offers a brilliant insight into the history of a man who changed and obscured the face of fashion.
27. In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye
2012. Documentary. 1h 30m.
It might be hard to believe, but 2022 will mark the 130th birthday of Vogue magazine.
When it first started, there were no photographs, just illustrations, and a focus on society women.
After Condé Nast took over in 1909, things changed, with photography introduced and fashion becoming the focal point of the weekly.
Of course, the publication eventually became a monthly paper riding the social tides and political changes, slowly becoming the magazine we know today.
To commemorate the journey, directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have put together ‘In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye’.
A brief flip through the pages of the magazine’s editorial history, particularly the women whose influence and determination not only allowed the magazine to stay relevant but maintain its position at the forefront of its many competitors.
Access the full documentary here.
28. Picture Me: A Model’s Diary
2009. Documentary. 1h 22m.
Review revealing and engaging, ‘Picture Me’ is a raw and personal video diary of the charts model Sara Ziff.
Follow Sara rise from a young fashion face to one adorned by billboards and fashion magazines from around the world.
Ziff and filmmaker, Ole Schell, co-direct the documentary, which lifts the veil on the glamorous world of high fashion modelling from photo shoots with celebrated photographers to runway shows in New York, Milan, and Paris.
The film depicts the ever-increasing demand for adolescent models, the pressure to stay thin, sexual harassment, and drug use.
This intimate account features in-depth interviews with noted photographers and designers and showcases personal footage shot by the models themselves, giving voice to those who are often seen but rarely heard.
29. Advanced Style
2014. Documentary/Drama. 1h 12m.
Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog, this film charts the stylish lives and wardrobes of seven of New York’s most fabulous senior citizens.
Proving that style is eternal, the older generation discusses their bursting wardrobes and the ways in which their attitudes to getting dressed have seen them go against the grain.
As one of them puts it: ‘I never wanted to look young, I wanted to look great!’
Expect false eyelashes, lace ruffs and feather boas: none are off-limits.
Official website and trailer here.
30. McQueen and I
2011. Documentary/Biography. 1h 11min.
This top 30 best fashion movies of all times must end how it has started, with the best fashion designer of all times, Lee Alexander McQueen.
Fashion’s ‘enfant terrible’, McQueen defied convention and upset the fashion press with his designs: he dreamt up the infamous ‘bumster’ trousers and pairs of Armadillo heels made famous on the feet of Lady Gaga.
Whereas Savage Beauty, the show which attracted hoards to the V&A, was primarily a celebration of his work, this Channel 4 documentary is a retrospective of his life, sadly cut short by suicide in 2011.
Using archive footage and interviews from those closest to him, the documentary provide a deep insight into the unique genius of his transformative runway shows and the relentless pace and pressure of production.
Beginning with his early years as a tailor on Savile Row, through his discovery by (and close friendship with) the equally eccentric Isabella Blow, and ending with him as one of the industry’s most innovative and troubled talents.
This highly curated list of top 30 best fashion movies of all times is your fast track to the history of fashion and more.
Moreover, if you’ve hit a creative plateau and don’t know what to do next, these movies will give you plenty of motivation to keep chasing your dreams.
Hope you’ll enjoy watching them, at least as much as I’ve loved putting them together.
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