Something a little different this week – I thought I’d make a little list of sewing/fashion related TV/documentaries I’ve watched recently and that are available on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. Some of them are definitely more lifestyle pieces, while others are instructive to some extent, but it was interesting watching them all. I’ve mentioned where I watched them, but this is the US version of those services. I’m not sure if they are on the UK and other versions, but hopefully they are.
First, I thought Mademoiselle C (Netflix) was a good documentary.
It follows Carine Roitfeld as she leaves her position as editor of French Vogue and strikes out on her own, with a new fashion magazine. She’s charming and interesting – and the documentary gives a good impression of the various pressures in the industry. I felt that this film scratched below the surface somewhat better than another documentary I watched: The Director, backed by James Franco’s company, which follows Gucci’s creative director as the fashion brand puts together a collection. I thought that this was a very guarded film by comparison, which is unfortunate, given what they could have shown from someone like Gucci. A little superficial for my taste.
Advanced Style is something that’s definitely not superficial. It is a wonderful documentary that follows a number of older ladies – we’re talking late 60s -80s here – who are style icons in their own right. Each has a great story to tell and a really stunning and unique sense of fashion. I just love the fact that these women have stayed strong to their personal style and most of them have personalities to match. If you like people dramas, I can thoroughly recommend this one.
It’s Sew Easy (Amazon Prime, YouTube) is probably well known to anyone with even a sprinkling of sewing knowledge, but I had never heard of it, nor have I seen any conversations about it yet in internetdom, so I’m adding it for any newbies like me. It’s a proper sewing show with a multitude of seasons on Amazon Prime and features a whole host of experienced crafters from the industry. The first episode had Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie) and Tricia Waddell, formerly editor of Stitch magazine, among others. I have to admit I almost didn’t check it out, because the title card looked so cheap and low budget, but I’m glad I did. It is definitely a low budget show, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re learning as much as these ladies show you. Not every episode will have items you like, but believe me, there are plenty of golden nuggets in there. And the theme tune is kind catchy.
Bill Cunningham New York was another cracking documentary about an 80 year old veteran of the fashion world, who rides around New York on his bicycle, taking photos of street fashion – decades before any of the street fashion blogs these days. He has had high profile columns in prominent papers for years and knows plenty of fashion’s movers and shakers, yet largely remains anonymous to the public. This was a documentary with real heart I thought, and I’ll freely admit to shedding a wee tear at one part in particular.
Unzipped on Netflix takes you behind the scenes with designer Isaac Mizrahi as he prepares for his 1994 New York fall runway show. I’ve read since that this is regarded as a bit of a “must-watch” for anyone interested in fashion design and I can see why. It wasn’t my outright favourite, but it certainly ticks many boxes as you get to explore where Mizrahi gets his inspiration for a collection, how stressful putting one together is, and all the other influences in a fashion designer’s life. He also seems comfortable letting the camera get quite close to him and we see a bit more emotion than in some similar documentaries. Oh, and some pretty famous supermodel names feature, which probably also explains its appeal. Linda Evangelista in particular seems like quite a handful!
Well, that’s what I’ve been watching recently. I have a few more on my list to catch up on: Dior and I, Iris and… isn’t the next series of The Great British Sewing Bee due to start soon??? I kind of wish there were some straight documentaries about classic designers though. I would love to see how they got started and look at some of their creations in more detail. If you know of any, or any other must-see programmes, do let me know in the comments. I’d love some more suggestions!