Photography remains the main medium of representing fashion, but movies often tried to get to the heart of the fashion world. Whether that representation was simply factual, critical or comedic, you can learn a lot about fashion by watching a few iconic movies and documentaries.
Check out the best movies about the fashion industry, that portray it from different angles and manage to uniquely present fashion as one of the most vibrant art forms of the past century.
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Documenting the life of Coco Chanel (Audrey Tautou) from her days as an orphaned seamstress to her rise as the Mother of Modern Couture, the French film is one of the best movies about the fashion industry because it allows the viewers a unique glimpse fashion history, detailing the lifer of the most influential designer of the 20th century.
With a truly impressive cast that includes actors from Julia Roberts and Tim Roberts to Sophia Loren and Danny Aiello, Robert Altman’s epic was filmed during the 1994 Paris Fashion Week. As a satirical representation of the world of fashion, the film acts as both a critique and a love letter to the industry. Countless cameos including designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier and Gianfranco Ferré, along with supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer make this snapshot of the fashion industry of the ‘90s a must-see.
Focusing on the vapid world of male models, the Ben Stiller directed comedy takes plenty of swipes at the fashion industry, but remains one of the most quotable movies about the fashion industry. The Orange Mocha Frappuccino might return in a sequel that already has a completed script, but no clear production date.
Meryl Streep gave an Academy Award Nominated performance in this adaptation of the best-seller based on the author’s experience as an assistant to Vogue Magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. It takes a light approach, but it’s still one of the best movies about the fashion industry’s editorial side.
Focused on the story of Edie Sedwick (Sienna Miller), heiress, fashion model and Warhol Superstar, “Factory Girl” focuses on where the worlds of art and fashion came together in the ‘70s. The film was mostly praised for Miller’s performance.
Some of the best movies about the fashion industry are documentaries that offer a rare insider’s glimpse into the world of high fashion. Focused on the creation of the 840 page September 2007 issue of Vogue Magazine, the documentary has Anna Wintour as its central figure and offers unique insight on how a fashion magazine works, earning its place as one of the best movies about the fashion industry.
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, the documentary presents the events leading up to the retirement of one of the most important couturiers in the business. Valentino’s last collection was shown in 2008 and the documentary features precious insight into the fashion icon’s creative process and the end of his 45-year career.
New York Fashion Week is the most important industry event in the US and the large tents in Bryant Park still capture its iconic feel. Featuring some of the best contemporary American fashion designers, including Isaac Mizrahi, Zac Posen and Donna Karan, the documentary gives precious insight into the rise of the American fashion, making it one of the best movies about the fashion industry.
Fashion photography has often been the subject of documentaries focused on a single visionary (like “Arakimentari” is centered on Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki), but “Black White + Gray” takes on two at a time. The film explores the impact that Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe have had on fashion and art, offering a unique portrayal of the NYC fashion and art scene in the ‘70s.
Exploring the fine line between designer and brand, this documentary is one of best movies about the fashion industry and shows how art and fashion still influence each other greatly even today.