Image: Dior & I

The fashion industry always had the reputation of being a glamorous and frivolous industry. The images that dominate the fashion landscape are more often than not, beautifully made-up women adorned in expensive clothing jet-setting from one country to another, living it up.

Thanks to that, fashion has continually been a highly coveted area of employment for young women worldwide.

However, when you take a closer look, the fashion industry can mean a much darker reality. It’s incredibly competitive finding a job in fashion, and even harder to excel in it.

Many people don’t see the immense pressure and see the gruelling hard work that goes behind every single photo shoot, runway show, and high-octane event. 

Over the years, the fashion community has taken to the cinemas to offer an alternative and more in-depth view into the lives of people working in fashion. These movies and documentaries are educational, inspiring and sometimes hilarious

Ahead are six great movies that any fashion girl worth her salt must have under her belt.

1. The September Issue (2009)

September is always the biggest issue of every magazine year because it is the magazine world’s equivalent of January. To our Western counterparts, it the time where they officially make the shift from spring/summer to autumn/winter. 

By standards, the issues released in June, July and August tend to feature less fashion editorial because there were less new clothes in stores, and a lot was on sale. So the September issue is all geared up to be the fashion industry’s ‘bible’ for the upcoming year ahead. 

This film is a documentary film based on the behind-the-scenes drama that chronicles the life and works of editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her staff behind the glossy issues. It’s very insightful as it shows you how intensive it is to put together such an important magazine issue of the year. 

2. Dior & I (2014)

If you are a budding designer, this film will definitely tug at your heartstrings. It captures renowned designer Raf Simons’ first season at the Christian Dior in 2012, where he was tasked to design a couture collection for the first time, in under eight weeks, which is considered insanely short by most standards.

It usually takes an upwards of 700 hours to handsewn each dress, so you can only imagine the intricate details that go into the dresses. This was a beautiful and emotive film that sheds light on how intense and demanding it is to helm a fashion house. 

3. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

Obsessed with street style? Then you should watch this film and learn all about the legendary photographer who pioneered this phenomenon. This documentary follows the late Bill Cunningham and his career with The New York Times.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour once said, “ We all get dressed for Bill”. For decades, he has chronicling fashion trends and high-society charity soirées for the Times’s Style section in his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” in very innovative ways. The film also showcases more personal aspects of Cunningham’s life.

4. Valentino: The Last Emperor (2009)

This documentary film follows the life of legendary designer Valentino Garavani. The filmmakers had exclusive, unprecedented access to Valentino and his inner circle for two whole years. 

It brings you behind the scenes to show you how the amazing Italian couturier designs his gowns, challenges his employees, and engages in petty squabbles with his long-time partner (both in love and business) Giancarlo Giametti.

It was an insightful glimpse into the colorful and extremely celebrated career in fashion – he helmed his namesake fashion house for a whopping 45 years. On a smaller scale, the film also explores the larger themes affecting the fashion business today. 

5. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (2012)

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Diana Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law, this film chronicles the life of the doyenne of 20th-century fashion. Diana Vreeland was famous for her time at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and is widely regarded as one of greatest editors in fashion, earning her the title New York’s “Empress of Fashion.”

Despite having never met her, Lisa Vreeland felt compelled to explore and document the matriarch’s inspirational quality as a literary salute. She spent three years investigating every aspect of her grandmother-in-law’s colourful life.

In the film, you will see how she quickly rose from a columnist to an editor, featuring interviews with fashion designers like Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg and Manolo Blahnik with snippets of intimate conversations with her relatives, including her sons, Frederick and Tim.

6. The First Monday in May (2016)

Yet another Vogue-centric documentary, but we can’t help it. If you are obsessed with fashion, you would know that the first Monday of every May is an extremely important day in fashion – it’s the annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City aka the MET Ball. 

It is widely regarded as one of the most exclusive fashion social events. Industry heavyweights from the arts, fashion, high-society, film and music grace the premier red carpet event in their fanciest outfits.

The film follows curator Andrew Bolton and Gala co-chair Anna Wintour in the eight-month lead-up to two of New York’s most anticipated cultural events: the blockbuster China: Through The Looking Glass exhibition, and the star-studded 2015 Met Gala that celebrates the opening of the exhibition.