This post is part of my series of articles on how to learn fashion history.
I want to emphasize how learning can be fun, so this is a list of movies about fashion that will make for an entertaining way to learn.
Images awake our curiosity and inspire us. The words of the protagonists are precious guides to understand the unpredictable world of fashion and its logics.
I’ve chosen these movies because they are relevant for two reasons. They are an accurate portrait of the protagonists, who have been fundamental for fashion and they are a representation of the world of modern fashion, in a dramatic or ironic way.
The glossy atmosphere represented in some of the movies offers you the chance to fulfill your passions, to get lost in this world of incredible beauty.
Design Women (1957)
A graceful Lauren Bacall and an irresistible Gregory Peck together? Well this is a must see! If you love 1950′s romantic comedy and fashion you’ll enjoy this lovely movie. Lauren Bacall is Marilla Brown, a famous fashion designer, who has connections with the sophisticated elites and artists. Brilliant and funny, this movie is a piece of art, but the best surprise are the gorgeous dresses, which I bet you’d dream to wear once in a lifetime!
Funny Face (1957)
Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine publisher and editor for Quality magazine, is looking for the next big fashion trend. Jo (Audrey Hepburn) thinks the fashion and modeling industry is nonsense.
Maggie decides to use Jo in the first fashion shot, to give it a more intellectual look.
The musical is a masterpiece and everything is so joyful and enjoyable. And the dresses of Audrey are simply terrific!!
Blow Up (1966)
This dramatic movie is based on the novel of Julio Cortàzar.
The story focuses on Thomas, a self-centered, but very charming London fashion photographer.
He is a fatuous protagonist of the rich and refined Swinging Sixties London.
The cast is composed by actresses, related to the world of fashion, like Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Birkin and a stunning Verushka.
The movie is a satirical comedy co-written, directed, and produced by Robert Altman.
It was shot in Paris, during Fashion Week with a host of international stars, models and designers, such as Sonia Rykiel, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Issey Miyake, Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior Collection, Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Harry Belafonte, Björk, Paolo Bulgari, Cher, David Copperfield, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler and Nicola Trussardi.
The movie is a multicharacter Altman extravaganza, featuring the chic elite of the fashion industry.
If you had a bad day, at school or at work, you should watch this movie. Definitely.
Zoolander is a parody, a joke.
Ben Stiller created Zoolander for the Fashion Awards of 1996 and 1997 and he obtained so much popularity, that he decided to write and direct the movie.
The collection of Mugato, the fashion designer of the movie, was designed by John Galliano.
The devil wears Prada (2006)
This is a cult movie.
For every fashion-enthusiast-fanatic-shopaholic-admire-victim. But it’s not just like that.
It’s a good lesson for everyone who wants to begin a career in the world of fashion. The movie shows what happens behind the scene of this enchanted world, which, after all, is a great business, made by people who works hard and devote their life to it.
Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
A delicate and poetic portrait of one of the most brilliant and complex mind of our time.
Yves Saint Laurent is a beautiful tribute to the hard work and complicated life of the designer, an analytical report of his most significant career steps, and of the dramatic moments of his tormented existence.
It’s moving and thrilling at the same time.
This documentary takes a lighthearted insider look at the fashion industry.
It has been shot in New York, while the designer Isaac Mizrahi is preparing to stage a fashion show.
The film avoids criticism and in-depth probing into Mizrahi, however it does provide insight into the man’s creativity as he deftly deals with the chaos. Mizrahi narrates the film and frequently quotes famous lines from the old movies he dearly loves.
Lagerfeld confidential (2007)
Karl Lagerfeld, the innovative designer behind Chanel, Fendi and his own label, agreed with director Rudolphe Marconi to create a movie based on his private and working life.
This documentary reveals an inner portrait of this enigmatic fashion star, living legend, icon and rock-star of our days, showing all of his small obsessions, true passions and incredible gentle spirit.
Valentino: The last Emperor (2008)
It was not easy to convince Valentino, the Emperor of fashion, to accept the idea to be filmed for such a long time and for many hours per day.
Valentino is a very private person, so the movie is a great and rare opportunity to live the experience of being an unstoppable dreamer, who has to painfully deal with business and money.
The real essence of Valentino is wonderfully portrayed in a great movie about such undisputed member of the history of Italian fashion.
The September Issue (2009)
The September Vogue Issue is the most important of the entire year.
And the Editor in Chief Anna Wintour has both the experience and the cold blood to manage all her staff to make that happen.
The documentary could be considered the answer to the fictional “The Devil Wear Prada”.
Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington reveal the “behind the scenes” of the most glamorous and prestigious fashion magazine in the entire world.
A chance not to be missed!
Vidal Sassoon: the movie (2010)
Vidal Sassoon is more than just a hairdresser.
He’s a rock star and he “changed the world with a pair of scissors.”
With the geometric, Bauhaus-inspired hairdos he pioneered in the 1960s and his “wash and wear” philosophy that liberated generations of women from the tyranny of the salon.
Sassoon revolutionized the art of hairstyling and left an indelible mark on popular culture. This documentary traces with visual gusto the life of a self-made man whose passion and perseverance took him to become an idol of our time.
Bill Cunningham NY (2010)
Before the internet and before fashion bloggers, and street style there was Bill Cunningham, the street-fashion and society chronicler for The New York Times.
After 50 years of rushing around the streets of the Big Apple with his camera, snapping the great, the good and the stylish, Bill Cunningham is the protagonist of this loving and intimate portrait of a remarkable man, an admired artist and a chronicler of a city.
Diana Vreeland: The eyes has to travel (2010)
This documentary is about the life and career of Diana Vreeland, a fashion legacy famous for her time at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
The film was directed and produced by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Diana’s granddaughter-in-law), Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, and Frédéric Tcheng.
The film features recorded audio and filmed interviews of Vreeland, as well as interviews with colleagues, family, and friends of Vreeland and offer glimpses of the fashionable world Diana used to live in.
Ultrasuede: in search of Halston (2010)
Filmmaker Whitney Smith conducts candid interviews of fashion and Hollywood elite in search of the story behind the rise and fall of iconic American fashion designer, Roy Halston Frowick, or simply “Halston.”
A mainstay in 1970s fashion, he was the king and emperor of New York City’s nightlife.
Interviews include Liza Minnelli, Diane Von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley, Anjelica Huston and many others.
McQueen and I (2011)
This is the most moving documentary about Alexander McQueen’s life.
The film chronicles the career path of the fashion designer, revealing his heartbreaks, his emotions, his confusing moments and his tormented but kind and emotional personality.
The documentary is not just a tribute to the genius of McQueen, a celebration of his creative life, not also a moving report of his sufferings, which lead him to commit suicide.
Dior and I (2012)
The documentary is a journey through the eight weeks, that separates Raf Simons from his first Haute Couture Show.
It tells the making of the collection and it’s analytically developed, focusing on the multiple processes (concepts, sketches, patterns, patternmaking, prototypes) of one of the most prestigious Fashion House in the world: Dior.
At the end the sentimental and fragile personality of the designer emerges from the chaotic carousel of the Parisian Fashion Week, making him look like a talented and gentle artist.
Mademoiselle C (2013)
Carine Rotfield was the Editor in Chief of French Vogue for 10 years.
Madmoiselle C chronicles the launch of her new magazine “CR Fashion Book” and offer an insider look to her professional world and also her personal life.
The documentary is filled with models, celebrities and eccentric personalities of the fashion system.
Iris Van Apfel is considered a “rare bird of fashion” . She first came to prominence in the 1950s, when she and her husband, Carl—who turned 100 during filming—founded Old World Weavers, a textile company hired by nine presidents for White House restorations.
“Iris” is a daily report of the life of this uncommon, super-ironic and eccentric lady, filmed behind the closed doors of her Park Avenue apartment, where she quietly grapples with old age.
Iris is irresistible.