IMHO: Documentaries are for smart people


IMHO: Documentaries are for smart people


Mitchell Drop Cap 1his June, in a glorious month between the end of classes and start of my internship at Marie Claire, I decided to brush up on my fashion knowledge.  Did I do the scholarly thing and read a book?  God, no.  I am the laziest person I know and devised a plan to raise my fashion IQ without ever leaving bed – watch documentaries!  Continue reading for the result of my hours of exhaustive (get it?) research.

september_issue_ver2_xlg The September Issue
Though an obvious choice, it would be sacrosanct to speak of fashion docs without The September Issue.  It’s behind-the-scenes glimpse into the notorious fashion mag brought new life to the genre and served as a catalyst for the remaining films on this list. Highlights include all scenes with the fiery goddess that is Grace Coddington.

Dior-and-I-20-movies-for-fashion-loversDior and I
Filmed during the first eight weeks of Raf Simons’ tenure at Dior, this documentary offers a candid look into the creation of an haute couture collection.  Dior and I follows Raf and his partner Pieter Mulier from the preliminary design process to the atelier, where abstract ideas come to life.  Raf has since departed from Dior in a highly-documented resignation and is now creative director at Calvin Klein.  Expect big things.

photo_08 Iris
Like Beyoncé, she is known by one name only. Iris (Apfel) has more style at 95 than pretty much every 20-year-old I know.  Not to mention, she is an expert haggler.  Whether it’s a Palm Beach vintage shop or an African clothing store in Harlem, Iris always gets the most bang for her buck.  Let’s make this woman a visiting Negotiations professor. @AmyG

0d3b684c08f630190fe9daa9373d0363 Bill Cunningham New York
The original street style photographer, Bill Cunningham is something of an enigma – even after watching this film.  While it only briefly touches upon his personal life, his 40-year career at The New York Times is heavily chronicled.  Scenes of Bill snapping shots in his signature blue coat are interspersed between interviews with those whom he inspired, painting a picture of an equally talented and humble man.  In a lighter moment, the film takes us inside Bill’s “apartment”, which lacks a bathroom or kitchen and is instead filled with file cabinets storing Bill’s negatives.  Beige Block is luxurious in comparison.

d343f1fabee84fe9abbc8d9ef45365c3 The Devil Wears Prada
Before you say that it’s not a documentary, let me remind you that this is an opinion column.  I do what I want.  From my experience at Marie Claire, I would argue that The Devil Wears Prada does not completely misrepresent the role of a fashion assistant. As I fetched one editor’s dry cleaning for the umpteenth time, I felt Andy’s pain when she learned that her job description was more similar to dog walker than journalist.  As I lugged four boxes from Rodarte through the pouring rain, I understood how Emily                                           was so focused on delivering those Hermés scarves that she walked straight into a                                              moving taxi.  Yes, The Devil Wears Prada is dramatized.  I loved Marie Claire and was                                    never once asked to fly my boss through a hurricane.  However, the film nails its depiction                               of the fashion industry as competitive and emotionally-charged, and is therefore listed as                                 a fauxcumentary (© IMHO).


So whether you’re nostalgic for fashion month or need to reignite your love of style, it’s time to clear your weekend for a Netflix binge.  Fuck the midterms – this is real education.

– Allison Litt

Images courtesy of: Nylon, Roger Egbert, Buro 24/6, Complex, and Wikipedia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *