For Your Viewing Pleasure: Five Fashion and Style Documentaries.

Are you interested in fashion, its varying facets and the people involved? If you’re lucky enough to catch a break, here are some widely varied, interesting and informative documentaries with which to bide your free time!

Funky, funky.
Funky, funky.

Advanced Style

Tao Porchon-Lyn from Ari Seth Cohen's amazing blog Advanced Style-- check out both the doc and the website!
Tao Porchon-Lyn from Ari Seth Cohen’s amazing blog Advanced Style– check out both the doc and the website!

When it comes to fashion and how to live life to its fullest, the ladies of Advanced Style know what’s what! This charming documentary features women 62 to 95, each with their own idiosyncratic look. Based off of the eponymous blog, they give us a peek at their thoughts on style and on life in general. If you’re looking for a heartwarming documentary (because, let’s face it, many of the documentaries I watch are quite the opposite), or are looking for some unique individuals to aspire to be, give Advanced Style a try!



I wouldn’t have expected this documentary to have started any other way: The screen is black, and all you hear is Ms. Apfel’s trademark chunky jewelry clattering and clicking before we even lay eyes on the fashion icon herself. The vivacious nonagenarian interior decorator and textile designer waxes poetic on her past and how her style evolved. Additionally, there are lots of cameos by individuals in the fashion and design business, including her husband of 60-plus years, Carl, who passed away last year. Truly, Advanced Style and Iris go together swimmingly, so why not binge watch these endearing docs together?

The True Cost

The Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh resulted in over 1100 deaths-- the deadliest garment industry accident in history.
The Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh resulted in over 1100 deaths– the deadliest garment industry accident in history.

“Well, I love everything about clothes; I love the poetry. I love the fabric. I love the colors. I love the textures. I love the way they make you feel. They are out chosen skin.” — Orsola De Castro

That quote pretty succinctly sums-up why I feel how I feel about fashion. As a human being who wears clothing (as I presume most of you are, too!), this is an informative documentary. Not only because it shows how fast fashion impacts the individuals in the manufacture of such goods, but it also presents a view from the environmental and economic impacts of the industry, in addition to other topics, like modern materialism, consumptionism, and the use of fashion advertising as propaganda and its effect on body image. In short, if you are a patron of the fast fashion industry, you oughta watch The True Cost.

Fresh Dressed

Fresh Dressed showcases numerous notable interviews from the hip hop and fashion worlds.
Fresh Dressed showcases numerous notable interviews from the hip hop and fashion worlds.

Although largely male-centric, this documentary is a great reference: not only for the hand-in-hand birth and development of hip hop and urban fashion, but it is, especially in the earlier half of the film, a good documentation of black history and fashion in general. As history books, lessons and documentaries overwhelmingly tend to focus on white and Euro-centric viewpoints, there is enough meat here to begin a little research of one’s own into the subject, and the content is refreshing, interesting and thought-provoking. Chock-full of interviews from the people who started the movement and through those designers continuing the fashion legacy (both urban and haute couture), Fresh Dressed is a useful tool in a designer’s or fashion historian’s tool box of knowledge.

The Secret World of Haute Couture

A couture fitting.
A couture fitting.

So, exactly what is haute couture? Personally, haute couture is a unique handmade, wearable garment that is also a work of art… that also comes with an ungodly price tag, rendering said garment unattainable by someone like me.  According to this documentary, the world of couture is pretty much a private girls’ club full of mostly rich [white] people, which, well… that doesn’t sound so appealing anymore, does it? One interviewee, a member of the insular club,  insists that charity and philanthropy has a lot to do with the lifestyle, but that really gets lost in the world of exclusivity that shrouds high fashion. The thing I stress, however, is that these garments ARE in fact exquisite sculptures of textiles, beads, feathers, despite the cult of couture. This is the shortest documentary on the list, but it’s still a worthwhile watch if you’re into fashion, even if I spent half of the view time enthralled and the other half aghast at some of the individuals and their attitudes in it. I must say that narrator Margy Kinmonth’s frequently tongue-in-cheek approach is much appreciated!

Have you watched any of these documentaries? Do you have a favorite doc that’s not included on the list? Let us know in the comments section!

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