13 movies that every fashionista would love

 Written by Zenda Nel
Sustainability reporter

The world of fashion is akin to the mysteries of kings and queens living secret and lavish lives in labyrinth-like castles reaching for the sky. The lead actors in that rarefied pseudo-reality live lives that ordinary mortals can't imagine. It is a world of wealth, beauty and glamour, but also of strife, jealousy and excess.

For fashion lovers, this world has been brought to life by many iconic movies. If you're fascinated by the hidden world of the creators of clothing styles over the ages, here is a list of films that will take you on a personal fashion quest. Get the popcorn and call your fashion-loving friends.

By Corbis for CNN via Wikipedia

By Corbis for CNN via Wikipedia 

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's

Every woman should have a little black number in her wardrobe. This piece of fashion wisdom comes from the opening scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's, showing Audrey Hepburn famously dressed in a long, black satin dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy standing in front of a jewellery store on Fifth Avenue, New York, early in the morning.

That scene, complete with long satin gloves, strands of pearls, a diamond hair accessory and large tortoiseshell sunglasses, defined what so many women have since strived for: sophisticated fashion style. 

  • The Devil wears Prada

Recognised as the most famous fashion movie of all time, The Devil Wears Prada is as much about the toxic work environment in the fashion industry as it is about fashion. Starring three female movie icons, Meryl Streep (fashion magazine editor-in-chief), Anne Hathaway (second assistant) and Emily Blunt (first assistant), the movie was always going to be a blockbuster. 

Everyone struts around in amazing outfits and even more amazing impossible-to-wear high heels. And the famous one-liners from the movie still populate the social media pages, many of them uttered by the ghastly and brilliant Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). The Devil Wears Prada is a feast for the eyes and fodder for the cynical.

  • The September Issue

The September Issue is a documentary that follows the tumultuous career of Vogue Editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, as she and her staff are putting together the 2007 September issue. The September issue is traditionally the most important of the year for a fashion magazine, being a time of much pressure and high stress levels. 

Viewers get an inside look at the realities of working in fashion – the glitz and the glamour, but also the fraught relationships. Cameo appearances by Oscar de la Renta, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Vera Wang and others add real fashion gravitas to the documentary. 

  • Coco Before Chanel

For serious students of fashion, this biography of one of fashion's all-time icons is a must. Audrey Tautou portrays the young Coco Chanel in her early life before she established her famous fashion house. She was working as a milliner and cabaret performer when she met a wealthy heir (Benoît Poelvoorde), and her life changed.

Coco turned the fashion world upside down with outfits for women inspired by men's clothing. Before she earned the world's admiration for her classic styles, Coco was ridiculed for clothing that made women look like men.

The movie is beautifully filmed with wonderful styling by French costume designer Catherine Leterrier, who won an award for her work on Coco before Chanel. Coco Chanel brought elegance and sophistication to women's clothing that has stood the test of time. Watch the film to learn about original Parisian haute couture.

  • Annie Hall

Annie Hall is not a fashion movie; the 1977 classic is about love amongst neurotics. Nonetheless, the Oscar-winning movie's Oscar-winning female lead (Diane Keaton) sparked a fashion trend of her own with her self-styled movie wardrobe. Keaton wore her own clothes for the movie, which featured loose-fitting pants, shirts and vests with a loose tie and fedora that sparked an androgynous trend in women's fashion. 

Subsequent movies and red carpet appearances have confirmed Keaton's masculine style. She is recognised as a fashion icon in her own right.

  • Phantom Thread

 

Phantom Thread is a notable film for several reasons: filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson's impeccable cinematography, Daniel Day-Lewis's Oscar-nominated performance, and the Academy Award and British Academy Film Award for Best Costume Design. If you want to see outstanding performances, 1950's fashion, and learn about the meticulousness needed to create couture garments, Phantom Thread will enthral you, not least because it's also a psychological masterpiece.

The film is about Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a dressmaker and designer for members of high society and the woman who becomes his muse.

  • The Great Gatsby

Scott Fitzgerald's portrayal of life in 1920s New York Society is brought to life by Director Baz Luhrmann with the help of superb performances and 40 period costumes by Miuccia Prada and costume designer Catherine Martin. The sumptuous movie makes one's mouth water for the decadence of the time and the utter beauty of 1920's fashion with its art deco-inspired dresses. The 2013 movie, headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed in New South Wales, Australia.

  • Sex and the City 

The popular American TV series about four fashionable New York women in the late 1990s and their sex lives continued life in a movie version of the same name in 2008. During the movie, fashion lovers and brand followers can feast their eyes on Prada dresses and shoes, a Ralph Lauren top, Manolo Blahniks pants, tie and vest, an Alberta Ferretti dress, Luciano Padovan high heels, a Valentino skirt, a Thierry Mugler jacket, a Fendi tote, a Versace dress, Jimmy The Choo sandals and Nancy Gonzalez handbag among other desirable fashion items. 

There's much to enjoy in this movie: familiar characters, light-hearted humour, and loads of stunning fashion. 

  • Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde with South African actress Charlize Theron may be a cold war spy movie, but you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a 1980's fashion showpiece. In one of the movie's fight scene's Theron fends off the German cops wearing a Massimo Dutti white coat over a black-and-white Dior sweater and kicks her way to freedom in thigh-high Stuart Weitzman boots. And then there's that red wool coat straight from the Dior archives.

Theron parades designer outfits, shoes and trench coats that bring style visual originality to this sometimes improbable movie.

  • Dior and I

A fashion movie in the real sense of the word, Dior and I give viewers a glimpse at what it takes to put an haute couture collection together. In the process, the film pays homage to the seamstresses whose skill and artistry made all haute couture collections possible over the decades. After all, fashion designers come up with amazing designs, but it’s the skill and dedication of dressmakers that bring their creations to life.

The film is about Raf Simons’ appointment as Creative Director of Dior. He has eight weeks to bring the collection to the red carpet. All the stresses and strains of everyone involved are laid bare, and the audience is left with more realism about and less desire for that coveted world. 

  • Crazy Rich Asians

This movie is an exposé of the lavish lifestyles of some of Asia's ultra-rich families. The 2018 blockbuster showcases international fashion brands and Singapore's fashion elite, with special attention to the creations of Asia's top high-fashion designers.

The costume designer for the movie is Mary E. Vogt. The film features many unforgettable couture moments like Araminta's Swarovski-encrusted wedding dress, her gold jumpsuit, Nick's all-white summer suit, Astrid's stunning vintage outfits, and Rachel's blue ruffled gown, to mention a few. For a glimpse into what Asia's top designers are up to, don't miss Crazy Rich Asians.

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino, headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, is set in 1969 Los Angeles with a wardrobe to match. Costume designer Arianne Phillips is known for her vast knowledge and deep research into different clothing genres for the movies she works on. If you love vintage fashion, you'll appreciate Phillips's attention to detail in the outfits worn by the lead characters, especially those of Margot Robbie. She plays actress Sharon Tate who was famous for her glamorous fashion style in the sixties.

  • A Single Man

Tom Ford has made two utterly stylish movies: his debut, A Single Man, followed by Nocturnal Animals. Tom Ford is the fashion designer who gained international recognition for his turnaround of the Gucci fashion house and the revamp of Yves Saint Laurent before starting his own fashion label.

A Single Man is a quiet, tasteful fashion statement with cinema photography as medium. Once again, Arianne Phillips showed her undisputed expertise as costume designer, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. The sixties outfits worn by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, all pitch-perfect, are a testimony to the eternal aesthetics of the sixties and the creative abilities of Ford and Phillips to portray it.

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