In the midst of a self-isolating and social distancing pandemic, sometimes what we need is a bit of stimulus to keep us from going insane while quarantined in our bedrooms and homes. And what better way to flesh out the time than to watch some of fashion’s best films. From whimsical and uplifting to dramatic and strange, here is an eclectic yet essential list of fashion films.
Coco before Chanel (2009)
Anne Fontaine’s biopic Coco before Chanel is a detailed review of the incredible life of Gabrielle Chanel, who throws herself as passionately into her work as she does into her love stories. The French director decided to focus on Coco’s life before her glory, perhaps the most interesting period for those who wish to understand the woman behind the fashion figure. She depicts an injured woman, bruised by her neglected childhood and tragic romances. Audrey Tautou gracefully embodies this great Mademoiselle who liberated women with her sleek, straightforward clothes. An elegant and touching film that finally portrays the real Coco.
Saint Laurent (2014)
Léa Seydoux and Gespard Ulliel star in the French Biographical film Saint Laurent, which takes a closer look at the enigmatic character of designer Yves Saint Laurent. The film portrays the hugely influential French designer at the height of his creative powers, all the while struggling with personal issues in the late 60s and 70s.
The Devil Wear’s Prada (2006)
Need we say more? An unparalleled classic that is sure to go down as one of the most recognisable films of all time, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt star in this iconic film that has birthed more memes and quotes than we can count. When Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a young journalist, finds herself in an assistant job to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, she experiences quite a culture shock
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009)
The film is set in Paris, 1920. he name Coco Chanel is on everyone’s lips. The designer is shattered by the loss of her lover who died in a December 1919 when she meets composer Igor Stravinsky. Fascinated by the artist’s charisma and personality, who fled the Russian Revolution, Coco Chanel decides to move him, his wife, and children, into her Villa de Garches, before becoming his mistress. Director Jan Kounen focuses on this passionate liaison in his beautiful film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, in which Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen play this genius and egotistical couple.
Tom Ford’s Films, “A Single Man” (2009) And “Nocturnal Animals” (2016)
Although not two films about fashion, Tom Fords work in cinema is a must-watch for every fashion enthusiast. The majority of the scenes from both these films look as if they’re fresh out of the pages of a magazine, and the costumes worn by Julianne Moore and Amy Adams are good enough to march down the runway.
Dior & I (2014)
Dior & I was one of the first pictures to truly document the fragile balancing act between conception, creation and commercial viability. Directed by Frédéric Tcheng, Dior & I follows Simons behind-the-scenes in the lead up to his debut and offers a rare insight into the strenuous pressures placed fashion designers in an ever-increasingly hungry world constantly looking for more. It highlights the growing pressure put on fashion designers in the digital age, and perhaps foreshadows Raf’s shock departure from Dior after only three and a half years at the helm.
Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent examines the mythical and sometimes scandalous life of Yves Saint Laurent. From his lead position at Dior in 1957 to the creation of his own fashion house in 1961, including his relationship with Pierre Bergé, the film makes an attempt at embodying the complex creativity of the French couturier. Featuring his inspirations, failed attempts, and the infamous Russian Ballet 1976 collection, the film touches on all facets.
Young Angelina Jolie stars in this 90’s era, grungy, HBO film Gia, which tells the heartbreaking true story of Gia Carangi, one of the world’s first supermodels who died of AIDS at the tender age of 26. Revealing the grisly side of the industry, Michael Cristofer directs a sensitive, raw and at times uncomfortable film about a woman who rose to great heights modelling for Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Calvin Klein but who turned to heroin while unable to deal with the intolerable stress and pressure the industry and her tormented love life placed upon her.
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
On the other hand, fashion can be fun. Isla Fisher’s character has some huge flaws, one of them being she is a certified ‘Shopaholic’. She shops till she drops and maxes out all her credit cards over new outfits she doesn’t really need. Ironically, she is hired as a writer for a financial magazine, meant to advise readers on their savings. In hiding her fashion addiction from her boss and co-workers, Becky must face her inner demons or risk losing herself in the process.
The Neon Demon (2016)
Directed by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, this psychological horror follows Elle Fanning as new-pure-girl-turned-model who lands in LA looking to kickstart her career in fashion. Alongside Bella Heathcote, a motel-owning Keanu Reeves, and an insatiable cannibalistic Abbey Lee, the story twists and turns as Fanning’s psychological state deteriorates. Although critics are mixed about this film, The Neon Demon has a transfixing quality a la Stanley Kubrik and David Lynch.