8 Fashion Documentaries to Watch While You Wait for the McQueen Biopic

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Iris Apfel
Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

At last count, there are no less than six fashion documentaries in the works right now. In fact, Alexander McQueen’s much-anticipated biopic will get a worldwide theater release later this year. Two others will cast a narrow spotlight on McQueen’s archives, with the first focusing on the ‘Jack the Ripper’ collection and the second highlighting his retrospective show from 2009. Finally, a new season of American Crime Story will focus exclusively on the horrifying murder of Gianni Versace, and the impact of this tragedy on the fashion world at large.

While you gear up for a bastion of fashion documentaries due out in 2017, here are eight incredible films to catch up on in the meantime.

1

Dries

The humble genius of Dries Van Noten – one of fashion’s most private designers – is exalted in the new documentary Dries, which dropped at the end of June 2017. More artist than fashion designer, Van Noten gets the cinematographic treatment he deserves as filmmaker Reiner Holzemer follows him through one year and the design of four collections. To watch this gorgeous documentary at home, click here.

 

2

The True Cost

The True Cost is a staggering, eye-opening account of the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by fast fashion. As one of the largest producers of waste in the world – second only to the oil and gas industry – fast fashion’s discards are wreaking havoc on the world and jamming up landfills with methane-producing layers that harm the atmosphere.

Additionally, it is responsible for the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, which caused the deaths of over 1,100 workers. Other atrocities include employing sweatshop workers who are unable to make a living wage, polluting rivers and waterways, and more. It’s such a jarring documentary that it might inspire you to never again give your consumer dollars to places like Zara.

3

Dior and I

Dior and I captured a rare moment in the life of Raf Simons as he prepared to show his first couture collection at Dior. What is so special about this documentary is the honest and fascinating depiction of the petite mains in Dior’s atelier and the relationship they forge with Simons. It is a joy to watch and a surprisingly intimate glimpse into the creative process of one of the world’s most gifted designers.

Dior and I documentary
Photo: Courtesy of Dior
4

Lagerfeld Confidential

Lagerfeld Confidential tracks the extraordinary life of fashion’s Kaiser, Karl Lagerfeld. Although he is notoriously private, he allowed a documentary crew led by French filmmaker Rodolphe Marconi into his exquisite Parisian apartment, on set at various photoshoots, and inside his atelier. While access is granted into Lagerfeld’s daily life, who appears quippy, restless, and brilliant in the film, the viewer is still left with the sense that they never really got to know the designer for who he really is. And perhaps that is just what he wanted.

5

Fresh Dressed

Fresh Dressed takes a closer look at the underserved side of fashion that sprung from hip-hop and the streets. This fascinating documentary puts urban fashion under the microscope, revealing its origins in the outer boroughs where Dapper Dan started his bootleg couture business and tracks its progress to the moment when it was legitimized on the runway.

Graffitis first art canvas was clothes
Photo: Courtesy of Cable News Network
6

Girl Model

While directors Ashley Sabin and David Redmon did not set out to create a blistering exposé of the complicated harm the modeling industry was engaged in, that is what they ended up with nonetheless in Girl Model. This documentary tracks a 13-year-old aspiring model from Siberia named Nadya Vall as she undergoes the rigorous process of casting and reveals how the industry is geared towards the exploitation of such young women.

It further demonstrates that modeling has become something of a form of indentured servitude. As soon as a model signs to an agency, she is given all sorts of amenities, access, transportation, and other luxuries only to find out that she is accruing enormous bills that she must work to pay off by booking gigs. Modeling’s seedy underbelly is exposed in this film, but fortunately, it did spark several calls to action, like raising the minimum modeling age.

7

Iris

For those familiar with this documentary’s subject, it goes without saying that it is a delightful film about one of fashion’s most notable and memorable figures. The nonagenarian Iris Apfel is still a fashion powerhouse and icon, flaunting her amazing collections in this colorful documentary about her life, shopping habits, and massive contributions to the world of style and interior design.

8

Bill Cunningham New York

For decades, Bill Cunningham’s hunched pose on the sidelines of every major fashion catwalk and on the pavement outside has been a familiar sight. As the progenitor of street style, he became one of fashion’s most beloved figures because he looked past celebrity and labels to the persons themselves, turning regular people into fashion icons. His mighty lens captured everything from the streets all the way up to the red carpet. In this amazing documentary, Cunningham is revealed to be eccentric, charming, and extraordinarily kind. His presence is still sorely missed in the fashion world – and will be for a long time to come.

Photo: Courtesy of First Thought Films
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