9 Fashion Documentaries to Get You in the Mood for Fashion Month

The Best Fashion Documentaries

I’m not sure quite how it happened so quickly, but summer is almost over. And with that comes the arrival of fashion month. You know the drill… A week of street style chaos, catwalk excitement and the highest of heels in New York, before the batton gets passed on to London, Milan and Paris. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

If you’re struggling to get out of summer-mode, and could use a little boost to help you prepare for fashion month and the back-to-school buzziness of September, here are 9 fashion documentaries that are sure to motivate and inspire…

Fashion-Documentaries-Mademoiselle-C

Mademoiselle C, 2013
It may feel like a million years since Carine Roitfeld left Paris Vogue, but it actually wasn’t that long ago. Only seven years, in fact. And this Fabien Constant documentary follows Carine as she moves to New York to launch CR Fashion Book. Compared to the other films on this list, this documentary remains at surface level, and you don’t get to know much about Carine’s motivations, past or personal life. However, it’s 93 minutes of pure glamour, and will definitely help reignite your love for high fashion if you feel your creativity waning.

Advanced Style, 2014
This film is truly charming, and will definitely bring a smile to your face. Created off the back of Ari Seth Cohen’s hugely successful blog by the same name, Advanced Style follows seven stylish New York women aged between 62 and 95. Their attitudes to personal style, ageing and modern society’s obsession with youth will definitely inspire and delight.

Diana Vreeland – The Eye Has To Travel, 2012
This is quite an unusual film. Directed by the wife of Vreeland’s grandson, it’s largely made up of audio tapes recorded by journalist George Plimpton (who worked with Diana Vreeland on her book D.V). You get to hear almost everything from Diana herself, who talks about her work at both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, as well as her time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s slower-paced and less flashy than the other films on this list, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Diana Vreeland - The Eye Has To Travel

Ultrasuede – In Search of Halston, 2011
The 1970’s is one of my favourite fashion decades, and this is all because of Halston. This documentary celebrates Halston’s work and also looks at how the designer lost control of his label after signing a series of bad licensing deals. Many of his friends appeal in the film – including Liza Minnelli and Angelica Huston. And the director himself, Whitney Sudler-Smith, is regularly on screen too.

The First Monday in May, 2016
This glossy documentary opens the doors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, revealing exactly how 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” costume exhibition was put together. And – if that wasn’t enough – you also get to watch as the Vogue team plan the annual Met Gala red carpet event. Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley always deliver the most hilarious and cutting soundbites, and they’re on top form yet again in The First Monday in May.

Best Fashion Documentaries

Iris, 2014
Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour with legendary fashion icon Iris Apfel? In Albert Maysles’ much-loved documentary you get to know Iris intimately. She takes the cameras along on shopping trips, photoshoots, shows off some of the many treasures lurking in her homes, and talks about career as an interior designer, her long marriage and her decision not to have children. It’s a beautiful film, and by the end of it you’ll wish you could have just a fraction of Iris’ zest for life.

Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, 2008
I LOVE Marc Jacobs, and this inside look at the creative process before Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2007 collection is really inspiring. It’s impossible not to fall head-over-heels for Marc after watching this – especially as he’s dressed as pigeon in the first scene. The DVD is fairly expensive on Amazon, but it may be easy to track down on eBay as it used to be sold in all Marc by Marc Jacobs boutiques.

Valentino Fashion Documentary

Valentino – the Last Emperor, 2010
Valentino’s relationship with his partner in business and life, Giancarlo Giammetti, steals the show in this film. It’s heartwarming stuff, and their tiffs will have you in hysterics (“you look a little bit too tan”). Officially, however, this fabulous documentary celebrates Valentino’s long career in fashion and documents the difficulties he faced trying to stay true to his vision in an industry full of change. It’s a must see!

The September Issue, 2009
I will never tire of this film and watch it at least three times a year. There really isn’t enough time to explain why this documentary is so special. And I assume you’ve all seen it anyway, so won’t need any convincing. Anna Wintour is a true inspiration, and this inside look at the US Vogue offices always encourages me to work harder and aim higher. If you’re currently lacking motivation and feeling a little lacklustre this documentary will shake you out of that funk!

Which fashion documentaries do you watch again and again? Leave a comment below to share your favourites…

This post was originally published in September 2013, and has been updated to include new releases.

{Thank you Anneli Bush for letting me borrow your coffee table!}

  • wow, I’ve actually seen none of these. Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton sounds really interesting x

    • cocos_tea_party

      You seriously need to get on it then haha!

  • Laura

    Oh I love a good fashion documentary. The September Issue was really insightful and I may have to watch that again!

    I’ve searched on Love Film for the Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs and Valentino docs and they’re both available! 🙂

    Laura

    • cocos_tea_party

      Oh fab. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll add that info to the post later if I have time.

  • annie

    Diana Vreeland- The Eye has to Travel is incredible! It was such a great artistic film, I loved it. It shows just how glamorous the fashion industry can be sometimes!


    http://xoxo-annie-xoxo.blogspot.co.uk

  • I have all of these! I’m really excited for Mademoiselle C though!

  • Amy

    Bill cuningham new york. you must not have seen that as its SOOOO up there on the list of best fashion docos for sure. (Actually for me its up there for any doco type) u must watch it!

    • cocos_tea_party

      I’ve got it on DVD but actually didn’t like it that much. He’s charming, but the film just wasn’t doing it for me. Although maybe I’ll give it another go!

  • cocos_tea_party

    So pleased this list has helped you discover some new ones to watch, Kara. Which one is top of your “must-view” list? xx

  • I highly recommend watching The True Cost. It may not be as glamorous as some of these recommendations but it’s a vital piece of viewing if you’re invested in fashion! I’d say it’s mandatory viewing.

    • cocos_tea_party

      Added to my list! I actually remember really wanted to see it when it first came out, and then totally forgot all about as usually happens when life gets so busy. xx

      • Great! I’d love to hear what you think about it. I blog about all things ethical fashion so it’s interesting to hear what other people think.

  • cocos_tea_party

    I love Anna Wintour too! I think she’s so inspirational. xx