As it is revealed that the late Alexander McQueen is to be the subject of a new biopic, The Industry Fashion Editor at Large David Watts takes us through his list of his favourite fashion documentaries of all time. From insider access to the world of fashion media and design to the poignant story of the sale of a legend’s private art collection, these films will take you on a magical, inspirational and informative, journey. Read on for David’s reviews and our selection of preview clips.
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK
Bill Cunningham is a legend and a gentleman. This Bill Cunningham New York documentary follows the life and work of an extraordinary man, who many consider to be the original “street-style” photographer. Having reached the age of 80, the New York Times photographer still cycles daily in Manhattan to search out his topics for the day. An emotional and moving tribute to a true legend who has dedicated his entire life to his craft.
Few words remain to describe the talent and ego of Karl Lagerfeld. From Fendi to Chanel and his eponymous brand, the man is an unstoppable force in the fashion industry. This documentary gives some delightful insights into the talent and the foibles of the man as well as showing the breath of creative talent he possesses, from designing collections, to his passion for photography.
THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE
The fly on the wall documentary that opened up the world of Fashion publishing. The film follows the creation of the now fabled “September Issue” of American Vogue magazine under the revered Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. It also shows how the most successful fashion magazine in the world can both influence and support fashion from all aspects of the business. My recommendation is the US version which is a two disc set containing an additional 60 mins of footage that was not included in the final edit, and which is a delicious insight into the foibles and egos of some of the key protagonists.
L’AMOUR FOU – YVES SAINT LAURENT
Following the death of Fashion Icon Yves Saint Laurent, his partner in business and life Pierre Bergé took the decision to auction the artwork and objets d’art they had collected together over 40 years. This film documents the preparation and dismantling of the famous collection from their home at Rue de Babylone in Paris, as well as giving a rather frank and illuminating insight into the life of YSL from his meteoric rise as the successor to Christian Dior (at just 21) in 1955 and the illustrious career that followed. An incredibly moving and rather sad account of the power of fashion and the creative genius.
VALENTINO – THE LAST EMPEROR
Presenting one of the greatest Couturiers of our time. Valentino – The Last Emperor follows the last two years of his reign as head of the business and tracks the creation of the lavish fashion spectacle in Rome, to celebrate 45 years of the designer’s achievements and his final couture show, which must rank as one of those rare fashion moments. We see in the film that it is the beginning of the end of the career of the man who started the business with his partner Giancarlo Giammetti in 1959 but we also see the passion and determination he shows never to compromise on his creative talent, which is truly remarkable. This ranks as one of my most favourite fashion films ever. The extras on this DVD are an added bonus which also gives a glimpse into the private life of wealth, opulence and privilege of the very rich.
MARC JACOBS & LOUIS VUITTON
There is no question that Designer Marc Jacobs is an extraordinary talent, and this film follows the creation of two fashion collections headed up by Jacobs, his own eponymous label based in NYC and as creative director for Louis Vuitton, and is totally mind-blowing. This fly on the wall film truly shows the pressures, challenges, and responsibility that is borne on the shoulders of fashion designers today. That said, what comes across in spades is Jacobs’ creative genius but also his likeability. I came away from this film liking and respecting Marc Jacobs in ways I had not thought possible, if one reads all of the media accounts about his past bad behaviours. I would suggest that every designer or would-be designer watch this documentary for a very accurate account of just how tough the fashion business really is!