8 Stunning Documentaries About Fashion

I will be the first to admit that I am far from a fashion icon... However, I do love a good fashion documentary. Fashion is, of course, inherently cinematic. This is a visually stunning world full of stories and history, colour and light, tension and drama.


Here are, in no particular order, eight of my favourite fashion documentaries



Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s film explores the life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The story they tell is both fascinating and deeply moving. Meanwhile, the film itself is a beautiful, visually stunning experience. One of my favourite docs of 2018.



Dries is Reiner Holzemer’s charming, engaging and wonderfully intimate documentary about Belgian designer, Dries Van Noten. This film is a fascinating insight both into the world of fashion and into the life of an extremely talented man driven to perfection.



Fashion icon and interior designer, Iris Apfel, led a colourful and fascinating life. In his documentary, director Albert Maysles captures Apfel in her nineties, explores her past and highlights her busy day-to-day schedule. Through her stories, anecdotes and interactions with others, we learn that what Iris has to say is well worth hearing. 


Martin Margiela: In His Own Words

In Reiner Holzemer’s intimate documentary portrait, Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, the first remarks you hear do not come from the iconic, enigmatic designer. Instead, key figures in the fashion world describe and contextualise the lasting impact of Margiela’s remarkable and impressive career. 


His legacy established, Holzemer explores the designer’s famous - and largely successful - desire for anonymity. While Margiela continues to fascinate fashion experts and inspire young designers, nobody knows his face.


High & Low: John Galliano

In High & Low: John Galliano, director Kevin Macdonald examines the life and career of the iconic fashion designer - from his meteoric rise to his equally stunning fall. In a remarkably candid to camera interview, Galliano talks about his experiences and takes us behind the scenes of the fashion industry - in all its glory and toxicity.


It is wonderful to revisit some of Galliano's shows. The fashion is breathtaking - the catwalks are so much more than a display of garments. There is art, theatre, history and drama here and it is glorious to watch. A fashion designer at the top of his game from the start, fashion houses, models, journalists and actors were all drawn to Galliano's vision and we hear from many of them in Macdonald's film.   


However, we also see a man under incredible pressure and struggling with addiction. In this context, a lesser director may have been tempted to excuse Galliano from his antisemitic outbursts. Macdonald does not. His film is far more nuanced and thought provoking - taking time to examine the impact of the fashion designer's actions and leaving us to draw our own conclusions.


Dior and I

Frédéric Tcheng’s film takes us behind-the-scenes during the creation of Raf Simons’ highly anticipated first Haute Couture collection as Christian Dior’s new artistic director. However, it is the work of the experts in the iconic brand's ateliers that steal the show. 



Roy Halston Frowick, known as Halston, was an American fashion designer who rose to international fame in the 1970s. In Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary we discover that Halston lived an American dream. Extremely talented, he dominated the fashion world and became a household name. However, all that changed when Halston took the biggest gamble of his life.   


The First Monday In May

Andrew Rossi’s gripping film follows the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's fashion exhibition, China: Through The Looking Glass. We go behind the scenes as this impressive event takes shape, under the watchful eye of costume institute curator, Andrew Bolton.


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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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