Close Encounters Of The Fashion Kind: High Fashion On The Big Screen

In honour of the release of Very Ralph, a documentary by Emmy-winning director Susan Lacy on the rags to riches story of American icon Ralph Lauren, we take a look back at some of the best films dedicated to the great fashion designers of our time
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Saint Laurent (2014)

Master of arthouse cinema Bertrand Bonello takes viewers on a giddy and intoxicating ride along with Yves Saint Laurent (played by Gaspard Ulliel) in the heydays of the late '60s and early '70s. Whether it's in the workshops where the couturier designs his collections, or in the business meetings where expansion strategies are hatched, or in the late hours of the night when the designer hops from Paris to Morocco to bed, Bonello presents a raw picture of the designer and his contradictions, and the culture in which he both flourished and suffered. 

Coco Before Chanel (2009)

As the title suggests, Coco Before Chanel tells the story of the gamine couturier long before she became a household name. Starting from early years as a dressmaker by day and singer by night up to her twenties when she fell in love with English businessman Arthur Capel, the film unfolds in a drama of influences, alliances, lucky breaks, and tragedy, powerfully portrayed by Audrey Tautou. 

Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989)

More a diary than a film, director Wim Wenders collates the comments and musings of peerless Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto on the intersection between cities, identity, and the digital age. 

“I feel like I have become a living fossil in the fashion world. Without even noticing it, in my own collections I have moved away from the street style. I was on a Japanese designers’ pedestal- considered a maestro. My design was getting closer to a couturier’s work, and I felt like I was missing something. But I always want to have a new challenge involved. I need to put myself to the test, and if I make mistakes, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me, instead, is making my dreams come true and putting them on display. At a certain point, I stopped seeing my clothing worn by people on the streets... It seemed like they were being treated as museum items.”

Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

Culled from over 250 hours of footage, Valentino: The Last Emperor captures the twilight years of a designer struggling to come to terms with the increasing pressures of fashion as a business, as well as his 45-year relationship with Giancarlo Giammetti, his sometime lover and longtime partner in life and in work. 

Christian Dior: The Man Behind The Myth (2005)

Profiling the late and great couturier Christian Dior, filmmaker Philippe Lanfranchi attempts to answer the question of how a reserved and conservative man became one of the greatest successes in the flamboyant world of fashion. 

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