Nothing can ever be as glamorous and mysterious as the fashion industry, namely Haute-Couture and its intricacies. A good rags to riches, glitter, and struggle theme goes a long way in capturing the audience when it comes to movies about fashion. We all want to know what goes on in minds that create and yearn for beauty and create the next big trend. Let’s go through fifteen of the best movies about fashion designers of all time.
Fashion Forward: Discovering the Most Iconic Movies About Fashion Designers
1. Phantom Thread (2017)
Arguably one of the best fashion films out there, Phantom Thread follows Reynolds Woodcock, a celebrated fashion designer who dresses high-profile celebrities and socialites in London, and the consequent upheaval of his life after he meets his young Alma Elson, his new muse. Rather than showcase the fast-paced flow of the fashion industry often depicted in pop culture, this film allows for a more elegant and understated glamour and is set in the 1950s. It is said the main character, played by the amazing Daniel Day-Lewis in his last role, is based on the renowned fashion designer Charles James.
2. Coco Before Chanel (2009)
As you probably guessed by the title, the movie is a biopic about the legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel. The film explores the gritty early and decisive years of her life from growing up in an orphanage to becoming a seamstress and her subsequent venture into designing her modern vision of how women should dress. The movie only deals with the years of Chanel’s life before widespread success and fame and hints towards it at the end. The movie is a must-watch for all Chanel fans.
3. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Though the film doesn’t revolve around a fashion designer but rather an aspiring journalist Andy Sachs who lands a job as an assistant to the tyrannical chief editor of the Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly. It’d be a disservice to not include this film in a movie list about fashion. The classic comedy is an all-time favorite of people who are into fashion as well as people who are not.
4. House of Gucci (2021)
With Lady Gaga’s remarkable performance as Patrizia Reggiani married into the Gucci family, whose ambition brings about the ruin of the illustrious fashion mogul family, this film is a venture into the darker side of fashion and its lure. The movie while based on the luxury House of Gucci’s history did fetch displeasure from the living Gucci heirs, but the film has been lauded as a commercial and critical success. If you have a taste for betrayal and murder and all things complex with a splash of glam this is the movie for you.
5. Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
Based upon the tumultuous life and subsequent successes and failures of one of the best fashion designers in history Yves Saint Laurent, Saint Laurent achieved widespread critical acclaim upon its release. It was selected as the French entry for the 87th Academy Awards for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ and competed for Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film is a visual treat and showcases Saint Laurent’s career at its peak as a revolutionary fashion designer and his relationships.
6. Dior And I (2014)
One of the best fashion documentary films out there, Dior And I takes you behind the scenes of Raf Simon and the Dior team’s design process for pulling together his first Haute Couture show after being appointed as the creative director of the legendary fashion house. This is the perfect film for viewers who want a glimpse into the actual making of the clothes in a Haute Couture setting.
7. Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (2017)
Everyone in fashion knows Manolo, everyone wants a Manolo and everyone who matters in the industry wears a Manolo. This film is more of a celebration of the artist behind the eponymous shoe brand, Manolo Blahnik. The film throws light on his work and life and his artistic creations as ‘the best shoemaker of the 20th and 21st centuries’ along with providing us an unaltered account of Manolo’s charming and enthusiastic personality and why he’s so loved in the industry. Everyone who ever wanted a pair of Manolos, this one’s for you.
8. Cruella (2021)
As one of Disney’s most infamous villains, we all hated Cruella unanimously, in the animations as well as the movie. But there is no denying that she is a fashion icon. In the 2021 prequel which tells the origin of the character, we see Cruella and her vengeful journey as a rejected fashion designer. The costume design in the movie is to die for and you will probably end up having more sympathy for this character.
9. Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)
Behind the House of Valentino was the genius of Valentino Garavani and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti. The movie follows Valentino and years’ worth of happenings around the label and business. The documentary puts into perspective the work that goes into bringing a design to life and onto the runway from mere sketches. This is again a must-watch for viewers curious about the industry’s inner workings.
10. McQueen (2018)
Lauded as a genius and the best fashion designer of his generation, this film follows Alexander McQueen from his early years and his stint at Givenchy to creating his line till his tragic death. The film provides the viewer with the extraordinary vision of Alexander McQueen and his struggles and how he turned them into reality all while being in the spotlight that didn’t always paint him in a good light.
11. Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
Another take on the life of the fabled designer Yves Saint Laurent, this movie directed by Jalil Lespert shows a more muted but truer depiction of the icon’s life from his younger years and his journey to the top. This movie was approved by the real-life Saint Laurent’s partner Pierre Berge and thus enjoys the privilege of using the actual archival pieces from YSL. Viewers who want to appreciate the clothing part along with the story should go for this one, given the movie is completely French.
12. Unzipped (1995)
Another behind-the-scenes peep into the making of a fashion show, Unzipped follows New York-based fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi as he puts together his 1994 fall collection. He’s drawn inspiration for the same from a range of things including ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and Eskimos. This movie will be a treat for anyone who adored the supermodel era with a number of them appearing in this film.
13. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (2011)
A look inside the life of fashion pioneer Diana Vreeland, from her young years in Paris to working for Harpers Bazaar and Vogue and later on as a museum curator for the Met. For all the Devil Wears Prada fans, this movie provides a more realistic side to fashion journalism and its intricate and creative workings through one of the most genius minds.
14. Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton (2007)
Today Louis Vuitton is one of the most renowned fashion Houses in the world. Everyone wants in on this house and what goes inside the House that never fails in its popularity and consistent presence in the industry. Look no further than Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton for it provides exactly that and through the eyes of genius Marc Jacobs, the long-time Creative Director of the label. The film shows justice to the pressure he is under while heading both the LV label and his own Marc Jacobs label.
15. Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (2018)
The most recent loss to the fashion world, the revolutionary Vivienne Westwood is next on the list. One of the most influential and empathetic designers of the time, Vivienne Westwood is the definition of an icon. She is more than just a fashion designer and the documentary follows her work as an activist and how her ethics and morals are reflected in her career. In honor of her memory and her work, this documentary finds easy space in our list.