When juxtaposed with fashion itself, documentaries about the icons behind these beloved artefacts rarely receive the same enthusiasm. Aside from The September Issue, how many fashion films can you call to mind? Now, parallel that with the luxury ‘it’ bags you can recite offhand.
It was recently announced that ex-model and actress Cara Delevingne has found a cinematic distributor for her documentary, The Cara Project. Whether one of the most current and prominent fashion figures can draw greater attention to fashion-centric documentaries is up for debate, but any enthusiast worth their salt should make an effort to seek out the visual histories behind movers and shakers of the industry.
In that vein, here are five lesser-known fashion documentaries to check out.
Directed by Andrew Rossi, “The First Monday In May” follows the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute curator, Andrew Bolton, and co-chair Anna Wintour as they prepare for the 2015 Met Gala. It’s a romantic look at the proceedings behind what is dubbed the ‘fashion Oscars’, laced with familiar celebrities and most importantly — breathtaking costumes inspired by Chinese culture. It even provides a glimpse into the coveted Met Gala itself, so famously secret since its beginning in 1948.
The princess of contemporary British fashion takes on the industry through a documentary series in collaboration with British Vogue. In Future of Fashion, Chung explores the mechanics of the multi-billion dollar industry from the ground up, providing answers to questions like how to become a fashion designer or influencer, and other industry secrets. The entire series is available on YouTube here.
You’ve probably seen articles on a 93-year old New York style maven, and it’s none other than Iris Apfel. “Iris” is a documentary that captures Apfel through the lens of 87-year old legendary documentarian Albert Maysles. It immortalises Apfel’s indelible mark on the New York fashion scene, creating a cinematic statement of how a passion for fashion and art can be an incredibly powerful form of sustenance.
To the uninitiated, Ozwald Boateng may be just another name. Menswear aficionados will know otherwise. The film took 12 years to finish, charting Boateng’s meteoric rise as Givenchy’s creative director to his place in Savile Row as one of the contemporary age’s finest tailors. The full documentary is available on YouTube here.
Beneath the opulence of fashion, there is an unsettling side constantly overlooked. Andrew Morgan brings these aspects to light in “The True Cost”, wherein he critiques the social and environmental costs of fast fashion, and casts the spotlight on those who truly pay the price — from sweat shops to pollution. It is a film that beckons its viewers to contemplate their shopping habits, instead of gunning for cheap prices and accessibility.