The fashion industry is a multifaceted one with many, many layers. It is full of creative enigmas, muses and models o’ plenty. What we often lose focus of is how the fashion industry is impacting lives. Not your life or the lives of your friends, family and clients. Not the lives of the people and editors attending Fashion Week or the lives of those competing in or watching shows like Project Runway. We’re talking about the people behind the scenes—the creative directors, the models and those responsible for actually manufacturing the clothes seen on the catwalk and hanging on mass-produced, size-marked plastic hangers in big box stores. Here are three films exposing, enlightening and examining what’s really happening in the world of fashion.
Dior and I
Watching the film documentary Dior and I when we did (this November) put it in a completely different light and perspective than had we watched it prior to October. The documentary highlights Raf Simmons’ first collection at the famed House of Dior working with the atelier to put together the couture collection in record speed to meet fashion week deadlines. This past October, Raf resigned as Creative Director after working at the fashion house since April 2012. Watching this movie, knowing that Raf resigned from the house that many would only dream of working at, made us analyze and search for signs that a designer wouldn’t be happy there or that co-workers are difficult to work with. But you really don’t see this in the movie. The House of Dior is very much a well oiled and run machine.
Our favorite aspect of the film is how it hopped between present day Raf creating his first collection for the house and Dior himself speaking about the house he founded. Dior only worked at his own house for 10 years before dying young, but those formative years solidified the style and prestige that is the House of Dior today. Raf joined the house in the wake of the John Galliano drama that ultimately got him fired from his job. The documentary portrays Raf Simmons as a very level-headed person. He is organized and demanding, but does not raise his voice. Creatively speaking, this role was a leap for Raf from his prior minimalistic approach at Jil Sander and also the first time he created a couture collection. He did an amazing job designing a collection that was an homage to the cuts and volumes Dior introduced to the house more than 50 years ago, but incorporates his only modern approach and prints.
We would have liked to have seen more discussion with Raf about the collection, his inspiration as well as the struggles of joining a new house so late in the year. However, the film did a wonderful job of introducing us to the faces behind the scenes at Dior, many of whom have been working there for over 30 years. It takes many people to put together a couture collection which is very much a dying art. We are very interested to see what is next for both Raf Simmons and for the House of Dior.
About Face: Supermodels Then and Now
About Face: Supermodels Then and Now is a dialogue amongst models or past models who have aged, some having worked in the industry for over 50 years. It is a self-reflection on their work and the fashion industry as well as a discussion of how age plays a major role in it. Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders films Carmen Dell’Orefice, Carol Alt, Isabella Rossellini, Christie Brinkley and other supermodels bringing to light many of the hot topics that are still being addressed in the industry today. However, he only lightly touches on each of these themes. The documentary skims the surface on issues like eating disorders, racism, drugs, AIDS, and sexual harassment but doesn’t really dig past it. In reality, each of these themes could be their own documentary.
One of the main topics drawn from the models’ interviews is a lack of confidence. They did have this wonderful whirlwind life where they were able to travel, wear fabulous clothing and party until the crack of dawn with other equally famous individuals. But they also had to stand in front of people and be judged and be picked apart for the most minute details. Many of the models in this movie said that they didn’t feel confident with themselves until they left the industry.
About Face: Supermodels Then and Now is a great documentary to be seen as a summary of the modeling industry for the past 50 years. We always wonder what happens to a supermodel when her glory days are over and with this documentary we can hear it straight from their mouths. While we would have preferred that the discussions were a little more in depth, it was an entertaining piece and a glimpse into the world that many of us can only dream of being a part of.
The True Cost, A Fashion Documentary
Many of us have seen documentaries focused on the issues of sweatshops, highlighting poor living and working conditions of their workers. However, The True Cost is by far the best fashion documentary we have ever watched. The film looks at the entire fashion process focusing on the long-term health effects of the use of pesticides in the production of cotton as well as the political effects of exploiting garment worker rights. But the premise is simple: there are people that make your clothes.
The film starts out, “This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make those clothes and the impact it’s having on our world.” For the next two hours, the film is jam packed with facts and interviews by key industry players, ranging from free-trade clothing designers to Bangladesh factory managers. It looks at the problems and also discusses possible solutions, but most importantly, it increases awareness in the hope of facilitating change.
Here are some facts that the movie shares:
- Fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry.
- We consume 400% more clothing today than we did 2 decades ago.
- The average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year.
A little disturbing, right? At times, this was an incredibly difficult video to watch. We are all guilty of wearing clothing from fast fashion chains. We all contribute to fast fashion. In a constant struggle to keep up with the Joneses, we succumb to the stores that bring in “new seasons” every week. It is our hope that more and more people continue to watch The True Cost and educate themselves about where their clothing is really coming from and how they can make a change for the better.
These are just only a few of the hard-hitting, enlightening and exposing documentaries on the current (and past) state of the fashion industry available for viewing. We strongly urge and encourage you to familiarize yourself with not only their content, but also their message. It’s important we all develop and embrace an understanding of what really goes on and into the clothes we choose to wear on a daily basis.