A new documentary about legendary designer Lee Alexander McQueen is the opener for the 2018 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival. McQueen was the bad boy of early 2000s high fashion who gave everything to his designs. In anticipation – and for everyone too poor to attend TPFF events – we’ve rounded up the best fashion documentaries airing on streaming sites this month. With everything from 5-minute snapshots to feature length docos, this collection should fill your time while you’re waiting for the September the 5th premiere of McQueen.

NETFLIX

Netflix leads the way in fashion content, with a behind the scenes examination of the global fashion industry and two biographical features. The first of these is House of Z. Zac Polsen, like Alexander McQueen, uses fashion to express himself. He’s a kind of anti – McQueen though, a bohemian who – it seems – was born into the life of a designer. Described as a sculptor in one of many talking head interviews, he takes the roof of the Guggenheim as inspiration. This becomes a crazy green dress, the construction of which forms the climax of this bio. If you can get past the smug entitlement of yet another genius dude supported emotionally and financially by the women in his life, you’ll find visual wonder in his sculptural gowns.

House of Z 8/10

At first glance, The True Cost is a should watch rather than a must watch. Be warned though – it will draw you in then sober you up quicker than a cold shower. Watch, learn, then check out your local op shop or ethically made dress label to assuage your capitalist, linear economy guilt.

The True Cost 7/10

Iris is the story of Iris Apfel, an eccentric genius of street style who hoards beautiful things like an elderly bowerbird. The way she talks about her clothes makes it clear that they are more to her than just possessions – they are a part of the story of her life. Iris’ attitude to fashion is delightful, and embodies the idea that fashion is not only about couture, but a cultural and artistic expression of self.

Iris 9/10


SBS OnDemand

SBSOnDemand delivers quality programming with the Vice series States of Undress. Former supermodel Hailey Gates wonders around the world exploring the sociocultural implications of fashion in amazing and unexpected places. This 14 part series started my love of Ankara and Batik prints. States of Undress sometimes teeters on the edge of cultural appreciation and appropriation as Hayley insists on looking like “one of the locals”. For fashion outside of the western fast fashion paradigm, nothing else comes close.

States of Undress 9/10

Did you know Lee Lin Chin hosted a fashion series? Fashionista sees our Queen talk to designers about their work and inspiration. These are 10-minute conversational style episodes which rely on Lee Lins trademark sense of humour, style and intelligence to pack a whole heap of info into a short timeframe.

Fashionista 7/10


STAN

Stans one shining offering is The September Issue, a fly on the wall documentary feature following the creation of the September 2009 issue of American Vogue. Anna Wintour is a strangely coquettish ice queen, while Grace Coddington is, of course, a creative genius and the one we’d all rather be. The relationship between the two provides the drama, although while it’s portrayed as feisty there’s a tender undertone that comes from working together for so long.

The September Issue 7/10


ABC

ABC, oh ABC. You’re letting us all down. There is a single episode of The Stylists dedicated to fashion stylists. Then there’s Hijabinistas, a Yassmin Abdel-Magied vehicle that unfortunately resembles Behind the News in tone.  Presented in 5-minute bites detailing life and fashion for women wearing the hijab. The concept is fantastic, in execution it’s a superficial examination of the subject matter with far too many cutaways of Yassmin and friends strutting down the street looking sassy.

The Stylists 6/10

Hijabinistas 5/10

Channels 7, 9 and 10 are, of course, cultural wastelands. Does anyone even watch commercial tv anymore?

Rebecca Bowman

Endlessly fascinated by the way our clothes reveal and conceal who we are, Bec is currently suppressing her wanderlust long enough to finish an MBA at UWA.