In His Own Words: The best fashion documentaries to watch during lockdown as new Martin Margiela film lands on UK screens

Sarah Young
Ann Ray

If you have already binge-watched Tiger King and are looking for a way to make the most of your TV-time during lockdown, fashion documentaries make for a welcome distraction from the constant stream of bad news.

Lockdown can be a difficult experience but during periods of uncertainty the fashion world is renowned for providing much-needed escapism.

And even if you’re wearing the same tracksuit you were four days ago, there is nothing quite like watching parades of showstopping gowns to help lift your spirits.

This week sees the much-anticipated Martin Margiela documentary In His Own Words finally arrive on UK televisions screens, in which the designer – who has never shown his face publicly – opens up for the first time about his love of fashion and the reason he decided to leave his eponymous label.

Whether it’s behind-the-scenes at the Met Gala in The First Monday in May, a celebration of the life and work of the enfant terrible of British fashion, Alexander McQueen, or an exclusive view into the world of Vogue magazine in The September Issue, there is much to be learned from each of them.

The documentaries aren’t just focused on high fashion, either, with Paris is Burning taking a look at the ball culture of New York City in the 1980s.

Whatever you are looking for, now is the time to take to the sofa, escape from reality and swot up on your fashion know-how. Here is The Independent’s roundup of the best fashion documentaries to watch right now.

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words

‘Martin Margiela: In His Own Words’ hits screens on Friday 10 April (Dogwoof)

The UK release of the fashion world’s latest documentary Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, is set to happen on Friday 10 April.

Directed by Reiner Holzemer, who also brought us Dries Van Noten documentary Dries in 2017, the film sees Martin Margiela himself open up for the first time ever about his childhood, the importance of anonymity, his inspirations, and the real reason he stepped down from his eponymous label in 2009.

The designer, who has never shown his face, remains hidden, with only his hands visible throughout the film as they write notes, touch childhood objects and turn the pages of old sketchbooks.

The documentary looks back at landmark moments from Margiela’s career and features interviews from fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, fashion journalist Cathy Horyn, and the designer’s former mentor, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Available from 10 April. Watch on Apple TV, Amazon Video, Curzon Home Cinema and Sky Store.

McQueen

The documentary follows the rise of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen (Rex)

McQueen was released in 2018 and gives a personal look at the life and career of late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, whose life was tragically cut short in 2010.

Known as the enfant terrible of the fashion world, the designer is shown in his rawest states as the film includes real-life footage and interviews with those who were closest to him as he rose up from east London to the catwalks of Paris.

Out now. Watch on Netflix.

7 Days Out

‘7 Days Out’ explores how a couture fashion show comes together (Getty)

Netflix documentary 7 Days Out gives a behind-the-scenes look at the seven days leading up to a series of major live events.

Episode five of the programme, which first aired in 2018, explores how the late Karl Lagerfeld’s spring/summer 2018 couture show, which was held at the Grand Palais, came to fruition.

For the hour-long episode, director Andrew Rossi – who was also responsible for Met Gala documentary The First Monday – was given unprecedented access to the brand and its creative director prior to the show, documenting everything from the studio to the seamstresses in a bid to reveal just how much work it takes to deliver the sartorial spectacle Chanel fans have become so accustomed to.

Out now. Watch on Netflix.

Dior And I

‘Dior and I’ follows Raf Simons as he creates a collection in just eight weeks (Dior)

Frédéric Tcheng’s Dior and I takes viewers inside the world of Christian Dior during the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection in 2012.

Released in 2014, the film charts Simons as he is challenged with creating his debut collection for the luxury fashion house in just eight weeks, from the first sketch to the final bow.

In addition to Simons’ creative journey, it provides a comprehensive look into the brand’s history, the story of Christian Dior himself and the team of dedicated designers and seamstresses that help bring the artistic director’s vision to life.

Out now. Watch on Amazon Prime.

L’Amour Fou

‘L’Amour Fou’ explores the complicated life of Yves Saint Laurent (Les Films de Pierre)

This documentary delves into the personal life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent as it follows the posthumous sale of the art collection he amassed with his long-term lover Pierre Bergé.

Saint Laurent met Pierre Bergé at the age of 20 and the two men remained together for the following 50 years, all the way up to Saint Laurent’s death in 2008, aged 71.

L’Amour Fou traces the couple’s lifetime spent together through archive footage and exclusive interviews, while Bergé candidly opens up about their relationship and Saint Laurent’s battle with depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

Out now. Watch on Amazon Prime.

The September Issue

‘The September Issue’ gives a behind-the-scenes look at Vogue magazine (Rex)

First released in 2007, The September Issue gives a behind-the-scenes look at how Vogue magazine comes to life, focusing on the US September 2007 issue, which weighed nearly five pounds and remains the publication’s largest to date.

The documentary gets up close and personal to legendary fashion editor Anna Wintour, as viewers are given an insight into the thoughts of one of the most mysterious women in fashion.

With unprecedented access, the film follows Wintour and her creative team as they create the magazine’s most important issue, heralding the autumn fashions and lifting the lid on the ins and outs of publishing.

Out now. Watch on Amazon Prime.

Vivienne Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

‘Vivienne Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist’ reflects on the extraordinary career of Dame Vivienne Westwood (BBC)

Originally aired on BBC Two in 2018, Vivienne Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist reflects on the extraordinary career of Dame Vivienne Westwood.

This film charts Westwood’s journey from her early struggle for success and activism to her ability to make punk mainstream.

Blending both archive and newly shot footage, the documentary is told in Westwood’s own words, and through interviews with her inner circle of family, friends and collaborators.

Out now. Watch on Amazon Prime.

The First Monday In May

This documentary goes behind the scenes at the Met Gala (Getty)

If you were left aghast at the news that this year’s Met Gala has been postponed, fear not because you can still relive the 2015 event from the comfort of your home.

An exclusive look behind the China: Through the Looking Glass-themed Met Gala, this documentary provides an unmissable insight into the biggest fashion night of the year, with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Met Gala chair Andrew Bolton giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what goes into creating the extravagant event at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

Out now. Watch on Amazon Prime.

Paris Is Burning

‘Paris is Burning’ has become a cult classic (Rex)

Before the advent of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pose, there was Paris Is Burning – a now-cult documentary chronicling the ball culture of New York City drag queens in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Shot over a period of seven years, the film documents New York’s vibrant ballroom subculture and the communities involved in it as performers compete by “vogueing” and taking cues from the world of fashion.

Also touching on issues of racism and poverty, the documentary features interviews with a number of renowned drag queens, including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija and Dorian Corey.

Out now. Watch on Netflix.

Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer

Jeremy Scott is the creative director of Italian fashion house Moschino (Getty)

Released in 2015, this documentary charts fashion designer Jeremy Scott’s journey from humble beginnings in rural Missouri to his current position as creative director of Italian fashion house Moschino.

The film features a host of A-list cameos from Scott’s celebrity friends, including Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora and Katy Perry, and provides an insight into the playful creations and personal life of one of America’s most influential designers.

Out now. Watch on Netflix.

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