Fashion Flicks

by Tracy James

All of your favorite shows are in summer hiatus and you've already binge watched the entire 2nd season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, so it's the perfect time to stream some of the best fashion documentaries around. Start with these, my top 5 picks in the genre.

1. Unzipped (1995)

The fashion documentary that launched so many others, this film tracks Isaac Mizrahi at the top of his game as he plans his autumn/winter 1994 collection. With a real fly-on-the-wall feeling, this 20-year-old film has reached almost cult-like status thanks to appearances from Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Amber Valetta, to name but a few. Mizrahi's hilarious ranting will keep you laughing - I especially love his obsession over the movie Nanook of the North and his desire to see women "walking the dog in a head to toe beast-fut suit." If anything, watch to see how the fashion industry has changed over the last two decades.


2. The September Issue (2009)

For anyone who has ever dreamed of working at a fashion publication, or even just those who are avid readers of them, this is a must-see. Often dubbed the real Devil Wears Prada, current Vogue editor Anna Wintour is a style icon and powerful business woman, in many ways "ruling the roost" of the fashion industry. The film offers insight into the inner workings of the fashion bible, American Vogue, and in particular what it takes to produce the largest issue of the year.


3. Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

My favorite of the list, I defy you not to fall a little bit in love with Italian designer Valentino and his partner of over 45 years in business and life, Giancarlo Giammetti, in this touching and insightful portrait of their life together. From reflecting on how they met as young men, their multiple, lavish homes (and pugs, who deserve their own movie), to preparing for Valentino's final Haute Couture show before retiring, this documentary covers all areas of designer's life and career. The dynamic between Valentino and Giancarlo is not only one of obvious trust and respect, but hilarious. Giancarlo is a straight shooter who does not hesitate to tell Valentino things like, "You look a bit too tan." Valentino himself is funny, with his dry sense of humor and flair for the dramatic: "An evening dress that reveals a woman's ankles when she is walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen." Overall, this film is like a love letter to the designer, following him as he pieces together a retrospective of his work.


4. Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston (2010)

Halston was arguably the first great American designer who could compete with the European fashion houses. He was the king of the 70's scene, along with Andy Warhol, Studio 54 and all of the era's trappings. But Halston's tragic decline was almost as swift as his ascent. Filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith (a socialite's son most recently seen on Bravo's reality show Southern Charm) went on a mission to find Halston's heritage, interviewing his former friends and muses, like Liza Minnelli, along the way.


5. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's (2013)

Considered to be at the top of all American department stores and the scene of many an ultimate fashion fantasy (like Barbara Streisand's 1965 TV show segment, a medley filmed in the Fifth Avenue emporium). The Olsen twins, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs are just a few of the many big fashion names interviewed in this documentary. From the process behind the spectacular Christmas window displays, to a closer look at the work of esteemed personal shopper Betty Halbriech, who has worked at the store for almost 40 years, audiences get a chance to peek behind the doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodman's iconic history.