To some, the fashion industry might seem like a daunting empire of self-obsessed fashionistas who glitz around wearing Louboutins, talking only about their favorite brand-named eyelash curler. Needless to say it’s not quite like that. Thanks to some recent (and not-so-recent) silver screen attention, the fashion community has taken to the cinemas to give in-depth looks into the lives behind the lux of the world of fashion.
From documentaries to films inspired by real life, here are 15 extraordinary examples of what happens behind the runway—as well as a few comedic takes that are just too good to leave out.
1. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Life throws a few not-so-fashionable curveballs at our main protagonist Andrea (Anne Hathaway) who takes an assistant role “a million girls would kill for” with the iconic magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), a role allegedly inspired by Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. Since its debut, The Devil Wears Prada has become the quintessential fashion flick for our generation, and no list of fashion films would be complete without this Meryl Streep beauty.
2. Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Coco Chanel is inimitable, but Audrey Tautou stars as a close second to none. This French film depicts the designer’s life before the famous fashion house, where she lived as a poor bar performer and milliner. A classic film for classic Coco—before the pearls, perfume and iconic place in history.
3. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011)
From her years at Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue to reinvigorating the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, Diana Vreeland is hands-down one of the last century’s greatest talents. The Eye Has to Travel showcases the life of the extraordinary woman, who through the best eras of the 20th century, discovered the power of fashion as art and revolutionized an industry of boring clothing into a franchise of invigorating fashion spreads and glossy coverage.
4. Funny Face (1957)
Speaking of Diana Vreeland, the editor played a large part in the next film on our list of fashion films, Funny Face. Audrey Hepburn’s debut musical performance, this elegant film carries us along as Jo (Hepburn), an intellect of a bookkeeper, falls into the modeling biz with a fierce and energetic editor (Kay Thompson, inspired by Vreeland) and a dancing, crooning photographer (Fred Astaire).
5. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (2013)
Take a behind-the-scenes look at New York City’s most legendary store, Bergdorf Goodman. From launching designer’s careers like Michael Kors and Bobbie Brown to catering to A-list fans, Bergdorf’s true lux appeal is on full display in this must-watch fashion documentary, created to celebrate the store’s 100th anniversary.
6. In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye (2012)
Aspiring to be a fashion editor or photographer? Do you wonder what the life of a fashion stylist truly entails? Well, with In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, Vogue —the fashion Bible—describes just that, in a way both creative and insightful. During this HBO film, you’ll discover the men and women, past and present, behind the glossy pages of the iconic and historical magazine.
7. The September Issue (2009)
Join the ranks of fashion editors and stylists as they piece together the September issue of the world’s greatest fashion publication, American Vogue. While In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye chronicles the life and works of the people behind the glossy, The September Issue illustrates the luxurious yet intense business required in putting together the largest issue of the year.
8. Mademoiselle C (2013)
In Mademoiselle C, grab a front-row-seat glimpse at editor and stylist Carine Roitfeld and tour through her life of at-home ballet practice, front-row workdays and high-glam style. All this while putting together her first venture since retiring the crown as editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris: the first issue of CR Fashion Book.
9. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
Think street style photographers are a new invention? Think again. Get up close and personal with Bill Cunningham, an 80-year-old photographer and New York City fashion fixture (and an icon in his own right) who has been tirelessly documenting what people are wearing for The New York Times since the 1970s.
10. Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston (2010)
Filmmaker Whitney Smith conducts candid interviews of fashion and Hollywood elite in search of the story behind the rise and fall of iconic American fashion designer, Roy Halston Frowick, or simply “Halston.” A mainstay in 1970s fashion, he ruled as the king and emperor of New York City nightlife. Interviews include Liza Minnelli, Diane Von Furstenberg, André Leon Talley, Anjelica Huston and many others.
11. Dior et Moi (2014)
Chronicling the making of Raf Simons’ premier Haute Couture collection with Dior, Dior et Moi> takes an unprecedented look into the famous French fashion house founded by Christian Dior in 1946.
12. Unzipped (1995)
In the 90’s, Isaac Mizrahi was at the top of his game. Unzipped is a behind-the-scenes recounting of a hilarious, high-powered planning extravaganza of one of Mizrahi’s 1994 runway shows. This particularly eccentric film and even-more eccentric designer makes for a must-watch of stunning supermodels (Cindy, Linda and Naomi all come to mind) and the height of 90’s fashion.
13. Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)
An intimate look into one of Italy’s, nay, one of the world’s most famous designers, Valentino: The Last Emperor takes a first-time glimpse into glamorous, luxurious and celebrated life and career of Valentino Garavani.
14. Zoolander (2001)
Ben Stiller takes on the stereotypical life of the “not-too-bright” male model with this quintessential fashion favorite. Stiller’s Derek Zoolander struggles to triumph over his arch nemesis of male models, Hansel (Owen Wilson), while doing his iconic “Blue Steel” pout and becoming a brainwashed assassin for the eccentric designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell). No list would be complete without it!
15. Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
Revolving around a young fashion writer who simply can’t get enough beautiful clothes (and can’t exactly pay off half of them), Confessions of a Shopaholic is a cute, comedic (and sometimes cringe-worthy) take on life among fabulous clothes for the fictitious Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher). The film follows Bloomwood’s misadventures as she blossoms into “The Girl in the Green Scarf,” a columnist for a financial magazine.