From Alexander McQueen to Nike Air Jordans to Helmut Newton, these fashion documentaries span a wide range of subjects.
We may not be heading back to movie theatres just yet, but luckily there’s plenty for us to stream right from our couches. Whether you’re interested in a deep dive into the modelling industry’s body diversity problems or looking for a spotlight on some of fashion’s most celebrated designers, these are the fashion documentaries we recommend watching right now.
This documentary explores the work of one of the most irreverent and iconoclastic designers the British fashion industry has ever produced, Alexander McQueen. Famous for his headline-grabbing fashion shows, created with the aim to make viewers feel either “repulsed or exhilarated,” McQueen was a gifted yet conflicted visionary and the film offers a window into his complicated life. Available on Netflix
The Gospel According to André
Available to stream for free on the Hot Docs Canada website until September 4, this documentary chronicles the life and career of André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large of Vogue. From his childhood in the segregated South to his early years in New York media to his rise in the fashion industry, the film traces Talley’s fascinating journey and features interviews with some of the biggest names in the business. Bonus: Hot Docs is hosting a virtual Q&A with the director Kate Novack on Instagram Live on August 18 at 6pm EST. Details here.
Franca: Chaos and Creation
The late Franca Sozzani helmed Vogue Italia for nearly three decades as editor-in-chief, creating some of the most iconic and boundary-pushing fashion spreads in the industry. This documentary by her son Francesco Carrozzini paints an intimate portrait of her life and career, which began in the late 1980s, and features interviews with other icons like Karl Lagerfeld, Courtney Love, Naomi Campbell and Donatella Versace. Available on Netflix
Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1
Exploring the history and origins of arguably the most iconic sneakers ever created—Air Jordans—this documentary is a must-watch for any sneakerheads. Featuring appearances from the likes of Spike Lee, Michael B. Jordan, Lena Waithe and Carmelo Anthony, the film charts the rise of the sneaker craze and the shoe’s ties to social and cultural movements. Available on Crave
Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful
Available to view via Hot Docs Canada until September 24, this documentary dives into the provocative and controversial work of iconic fashion photographer Helmut Newton. Featuring interviews with some of the most famous people he photographed over the course of his career—such as Claudia Schiffer, Grace Jones and Isabella Rossellini—the film investigates an important question: were they treated as subjects or objects in his work? Details here.
A Perfect 14
Exploring the narrow beauty standards of the fashion industry, this documentary focuses on plus-size models fighting to change the status quo. Directed by Vancouver filmmaker Giovanna Morales Vargas, the film features three plus-size models at different stages of their career, going behind-the-scenes to show viewers the challenges they face in pushing for body diversity in modelling. Available on Amazon Prime
This documentary chronicles the life and impact of Ralph Lauren, revealing “the man behind the icon and the creation of one of the most successful brands in fashion history.” The film offers “unprecedented access to his life and work,” featuring interviews with the reticent designer himself as well as with fashion stalwarts like Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, Naomi Campbell and André Leon Talley. Available on Crave
Charting New York designer Jeremy Scott’s journey from humble roots on a Missouri farm to creative director of Moschino, this documentary features appearances from some of the brand’s most famous fans, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Jared Leto. Available on Netflix
Dior & I
When minimalist designer Raf Simons took over the reins at French fashion house Christian Dior, it was big news. This documentary follows Simons as he prepares his first couture collection for the brand and features cameo appearances by film legends (and Dior ambassadors) like Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence. Available on Amazon Prime Video
Spotlighting Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn custom suiting shop that caters to people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming or non-binary, this documentary explores the connection between gender identity and clothing. The film follows several of the store’s clients, who each share their personal stories of having a hard time finding suits that fit their body and that reflect how they want to present themselves to the world. Available on Crave
In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye
Released in 2012 in conjunction with Vogue’s 120th anniversary, this documentary takes a journey through the magazine’s editorial history, looking back at not just its most iconic images but the fashion editors who conceptualized and shaped them. Available on Crave
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
Legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who did stints at both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar between the 1930s and ’70s, is the subject of this fascinating documentary. Following Vreeland’s life from her childhood in Paris during the Belle Epoque to her rise through the ranks of New York fashion media and eventual role as consultant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, the film sheds light on one of the fashion industry’s most acclaimed voices. Available on Amazon Prime Video