Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Before the famously coveted Chanel no. 5, before the revolutionary little black jersey dresses, and before the venerated 2.55 quilted bag, there was Gabriel “Coco” Chanel – the woman who was once an orphan turned performer turned fashion game changer. The pioneer of undoubtedly one of the most successful and greatest empires in fashion was not born into the most glamorous upbringing. In fact, Coco struggled to find her niche in the early 1990s Paris scene after struggling from a dark childhood. More than that, Coco Before Chanel focuses on the icon’s relationship with the two most prominent men in his life, Etienne Balsan, and more importantly, Arthur Capel - both of whom have been an instrumental part of Coco’s beginnings as a hat designer to a full fledged fashion designer. The movie taps into the emotional tendencies of its viewers, and it makes us understand that despite Chanel’s godly talent, she is but only human.
Picture Me (2009)
Just when you thought being a fashion model is an automatic gateway to a life full of blissful luxury and glamour, Picture Me opens us to the realities of the industry and how not everything that shines is gold. The movie chronicles the experiences of Sarah Ziff - from being scouted to being casted at shows, to walking on runways and being photographed for billboards. Picture Me also highlights the industry’s obsession with youth and how there is a growing conflict between “experienced” models cementing their claim on the runway and “newer” models proving their abilities to the industry. In the same way, you will understand why models are often unfairly stereotyped as “skinny” and “dumb”.
Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
Who do you dress up for? Ask American Vogue’s editor in chief, and she’ll answer one name: Bill Cunningham. The highly renowned New York Times photographer is known for his street style snapshots . Cunnigham’s subjects are often interestingly alluring, and exuberantly perplexing especially when clad in their amazing clothing ensembles. The documentary also flies us to some tidbits into his personal life, his process in achieving his aesthetics, and into his humble apartment. Bill Cunningham New York is a good watch and it will make you value the authentic personal style – something hardly valued in today’s extremely commercialized and deliberately constructed clothing ensembles.
Valentino: The Last Emperor
Behind every strong fashion empire is a designer who started with the goal of making every woman beautiful. And so it happened: Valentino Garavani, known famously as Valentino, is credited for creating iconic dresses like Julia Robert’s 2001 Academy Awards gown, the staple “Valentino Red", and graceful and feminine dresses that made the woman who wore his clothes feel good about themselves. This documentary is spot on interesting and it is heartwarming to watch a person who is beyond passionate about his work and the people who have helped him to success. Case in point: Giancarlo Giammetti is Valentino’s partner in crime: both in life and business. They have been inseparable since the first time they met each other.
The September Issue (2008)
September may possibly be heralded as the Christmas of magazine publishing – atleast in Vogue’s case. Why? September issues are often the thickest and heaviest issues of the year (article: Vogue September 2012 Issue Has A Weight Problem: Heavy Magazines Lead To Mail Woes) having 600++ pages worth of ads, articles, editorials, and other interesting things of sorts. These sartorial leaves are quite a bountiful feast for the eyes and it is interesting how the pristine quality of the end product is the fruit of tons of labor and tons of rejection. The documentary brings us behind the fashion emporium that is Vogue and into the real back-breaking business of this fashion publication. We will get a good long look at Anna Wintour as she insightfully says: “I think that what I often see is that people are frightened of fashion and that because they’re scared of it, or it makes them feel insecure they put it down. On the whole, people that say demeaning things about our world. I think that’s usually because they feel in some ways excluded or not part of the cool group. So as a result they just mock it.”