Style icons on screen
Tanya Sweeney examines the most popular fashion docu-films ever made
If you've even a cursory eye trained toward the style world, you'll no doubt be aware that New York's Bergdorf Goodman is fashion's ground zero.
And now, thanks to a new documentary, the velvet curtain has been pulled back to reveal the inner workings of the store. Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's takes the viewer right into the thick of it, detailing the trials and travails of Bergdorf's world-class personal shoppers, window dressers, and its current fashion director Linda Fargo. Featuring a roll call of celebs (Rachel Zoe, Joan Rivers, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen), not to mention the famously exacting shopping clientele of Manhattan. Catch it exclusively at Dublin's Lighthouse Cinema from today.
But then, the theatre of the fashion world has long made a compelling documentary subject, as the following must-sees attest ...
Lagerfeld Confidential (2007)
Given the Chanel stalwart Karl Lagerfeld is highly adept at creating controversy here and there, it's no surprise to find that this up-close-and-personal portrait of the man himself makes for compelling living. Temperamental and fond of a non-sequitur ("I'm a complete improvisation"), it quickly becomes clear that Karl Lagerfeld was always destined for a life less ordinary.
L'Amour Fou (2010)
Much-missed designer Yves Saint-Laurent gets the cinematic treatment in this 2010 documentary. Amid the opulence and glamour of his professional endeavours we also get a welcome look at the designer's private life with his lover and faithful constant, Pierre Berge.
The September Issue (2009)
What goes on behind the doors of Vogue Magazine has long been the stuff of fashion fable, but in 2009 editrix Anna Wintour swung open the doors of the fashion bible. As the team put together the hefty September fashion issue, the viewer gets an insight into the manpower needed to pull the magazine together (and falls in love with its fashion director Grace Coddington).
McQueen & I (2011)
Fashion's rebel king Alexander McQueen was one of fashion's biggest provocateurs until his death in 2011. Before his suicide, he famously had a partner-in-crime on his climb to the top: the fashion magazine editor and muse Isabella Blow. The pair made a compelling duo, yet her death in 2007 appeared to send her friend into personal turmoil. McQueen and I is a perfect snapshot of London's unique style scene.
The Tents (2012)
The erection of Bryant Park's white tents were the singular symbol that New York Fashion Week is in full swing. A breeding ground for new fashion careers and the birthplace of many global trends, Bryant Park is arguably the starriest and most exciting square mile in the city that never sleeps. Yet this documentary shows the very real, human mechanisms of fashion week behind the glam façade.
Bill Cunningham: New York (2010)
With his boiler suit and trusty bike, 80-something Bill Cunningham couldn't look further from an influential fashion figure. Yet as the street and social snapper for the New York Times, his keen eye and insatiable hunger for fashion have made him the man that Wintour says "we all dress for". As Bill follows trends with evangelical zeal, we get a heartbreaking idea of the personal cost of his professional devotion.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (2011)
Before Wintour, there was Diana Vreeland: the irrepressible and unforgettable editor of Harper's Bazaar. With a keen ear for a catchy soundbite and a look all her own, Vreeland joined Harper's Bazaar in 1936 and embarked on a life of endless glamour and intrigue. An absolute must-see for those interested in the golden age of fashion.
Valentino: The Last Emperor (2009)
The closing act of designer Valentino Garavani's career was every bit as dramatic and colourful as his many couture collections, and director Matt Tynauer was granted unprecedented access to Valentino's business and personal life before he brought the curtain down on his glittering career.
Mademoiselle C (2013)
Former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld is a familiar name to die-hard fashion followers, and this celeb-packed documentary – filmed in conjunction with the release of her own fashion book – lays bare the compelling artifice of Paris' couture circle. An entertaining, escapist romp with a shrewd and ambitious woman at its heart.
Girl Model (2013)
For all the theatrics of the flamboyant designers, the industry would be nothing without its gazelle-like focal point. Model documentaries are nothing new, but Girl Model is a real and slightly provocative eye-opener, detailing the journey of newcomer Nadya Vall's fledgling career as she makes her way from small-town Siberia to Tokyo to become a working model ... aged 13.