When was the last time you saw a truly excellent, crazily stylish fashion film? It’s fair to say that fashion doesn’t always get a free pass on the big screen, with cis white male directors frequently portraying the industry as vapid. However, there are works that welcome glamour, chuckles, and actual curiosity among the sea of cliched storylines.
In the light of the release of House of Gucci, here are 5 fashion films to watch this holiday season while you have time off.
Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni’s debut English-language picture, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1967 and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at the Oscars the same year. The film shows London at the heart of the swinging ’60s. Thomas, played by David Hemmings, is a young photographer who is clearly modeled after David Bailey. He flirts with would-be models and tries to investigate a murder that he witnesses while taking voyeuristic photos of a couple in a park. The trailer’s narration declares, “A world where the beautiful and odd take on new forms.”
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966)
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? is a black and white film starring Dorothy McGowan as an American model in Paris being followed by a French film crew. It’s a satirical representation of an industry Klein, a prominent photographer at the time, who was well acquainted with. Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? is both magnificent and ludicrous, as it is based on the fashion of the moment.
The Neon Demon (2016)
The Neon Demon is a film about beauty, youth, and jealousy, starring Elle Fanning and Abbey Lee. Nicolas Winding Refn employs bright studio lamps, seductive catwalk lights, and the shimmering houses of Los Angeles at night to create an entirely artificial setting, painting an extreme depiction of the modeling world — one that includes cannibalism and carelessly roaming mountain lions.
Mahogany, starring Ms. Diana Ross, is one of the rare fashion films featuring a Black lead and a Black director. Despite negative reviews upon its initial release, the film has endured as an early example of representation due to its impeccable ensembles, largely the work of Ross, and its interrogation of racism in the industry. Tracy (Ross) fantasizes about leaving Chicago for the European fashion world, where her creations will gain her prominence and possibly acceptance. When she finally makes it to Rome to work as a model however, things don’t quite go as planned.
Prêt-à-Porter [Ready to Wear] (1994)
Robert Altman’s comedy-drama Prêt-à-Porter from 1994 was reportedly inspired by a Sonia Rykiel show he visited with his wife a decade earlier and was blocked in Germany by Karl Lagerfeld. With a gorgeous ensemble that includes some of the biggest names in film and fashion — Julia Roberts, Sophia Loren, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington — the film has developed a cult status over the years, appreciated by those who work in the business it mocks.
In case you missed it, here are some fashion documentaries to watch at home in your sweats.
Photo via Space Rocket, Gaumont, Wild Bunch