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Nine cult fashion documentaries you can watch on YouTube

Featuring the likes of Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace and more

Deep within the depths of YouTube lurk many nuggets of fashion gold; including hours and hours of backstage footage, catwalk recordings, and far more documentaries chronicling the lives of fashion’s most famed faces than you’d expect. However, sifting through such an extensive catalogue can be tiresome without a directory, so we’ve shortlisted ten of the best YouTube has to offer. Each fascinating in its own right, this edit covers everything from straight-up murder to candid backstage moments and honest commentaries on the painstakingly fast pace of fashion. Educate yourself on the work of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld, retrace the murders of Maurizio Gucci and Gianni Versace, or immerse yourself in the outré life of Leigh Bowery. Forget scrolling endlessly through Netflix and hit play on these. 

FRESH DRESSED (2015) 

Straight off the streets of New York, Fresh Dressed chronicles the relationship between hip-hop and style, examining how gang culture and graffiti artists birthed one of fashion’s biggest movements – one that’s as popular on the streets as it is on the runway. Expect a wealth of archive footage and interviews with industry heavyweights conducted by the director, Sasha Jenkins. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos from Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Nas and more.

LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIAL (2007) 

As the name suggests, Lagerfeld Confidential seeks to examine the enigma that is Karl Lagerfeld – his painstakingly private yet outspoken nature and his notorious ego. Through candid shots and interview footage, the documentary paints the most intimate portrait of Lagerfeld we’ve seen to date, while attempting to uncover a typical day in his anything-but-ordinary life.

THE LEGEND OF LEIGH BOWERY (2002) 

The Legend of Leigh Bowery provides a fly-on-the-wall look at the club scene in 1980s London that’s been a neverending source of inspiration for a generation of designers, musicians, artists, and creators. From his notoriously outré ensembles to co-founding Taboo nightclub with Tony Gordon in 1985, the documentary, filmed by Charles Atlas, is both packed with archive footage of Bowery and anecdotes about the cultural icon from a number of recognisable faces including Boy GeorgeDamien Hirst and Bella Freud.

BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK (2010)

It’s rumoured to have taken eight years to convince Bill Cunningham to be filmed for this documentary that sets out to tell the story of the famed New York Times photographer’s landmark contribution to the discipline of street fashion photography. A moving and personal film, it also features cameos from Iris Apfel and Anna Wintour. Following the prolific photographer’s death aged 87 in 2016, over 75 fashion photographers turned up to NYFW wearing a Cunningham-esque blue jacket to pay their respects.

MCQUEEN AND I (2011) 

McQueen and I explores Alexander McQueen’s journey from Savile Row to the runways of Paris, and the many groundbreaking, controversial and revolutionary fashion moments he spearheaded in between. Released in 2011 to commemorate the designer’s passing, the BBC documentary examines his legacy, the unrealistic expectations and pressures of the fashion industry, and his fascinating relationship with his muse, the late Isabella Blow, whose friendship with the designer is to be chronicled once again, by acclaimed director Andrew Haigh in upcoming feature The Ripper.

CATWALK (1996) 

Filmed over 20 years ago, Catwalk serves a behind-the-scenes view of fashion month – New York, London, Milan and Paris – as told by model-of-the-times Christy Turlington. Fittings, backstage preparations and beautifully aged runway footage of the SS94 Gaultier, Lagerfeld, Versace, Armani and Galliano (yes, Princess Lucretia) shows are all documented, while Turlington’s friendships with the likes of Carla Bruni, a baby-faced Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell play out before the camera.

FASHION VICTIM: THE KILLING OF GIANNI VERSACE (2008) 

Another of fashion’s greatest tragedies, the BBC’s Fashion Victim: The Killing of Gianni Versace tells the story of the Italian designer's untimely death at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan in 1997. The documentary explores the series of events that led up to his death and the impact that it had on the fashion industry, with rare footage shot inside Versace’s Miami home. The story is set to be dramatised in the new series of American Crime Story released later this month – check it out if you can’t wait until then.

MASTER OF STYLE: JOHN GALLIANO (2001) 

Unsurprisingly, Masters of Style: John Galliano examines the fashion landmarks and controversial moments that define Galliano’s eccentric career. From his Spanish roots and days spent travelling from Gibraltar to Spain via Morocco on a boat just to get to school and his early days studying at Central Saint Martins, through to his groundbreaking theatrical shows and his years spent shaking up the house of Dior, the documentary gives an inside look into his journey. 

THE GUCCIS: THE LAST FASHION VICTIM (UNKNOWN)

When you think of the house of Gucci, chances are you don’t automatically think 'murder'. At 8.30am on March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci – grandson of the house’s founder Guccio Gucci and last remaining heir to the company – was killed by a hitman hired by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani. The Gucci’s: The Last Fashion Victim traces Gucci’s beginnings while recounting the glamour, betrayal and greed that led to the downfall of one of the first ever Italian power couples. Also, director Wong Kar Wai is supposedly making a film about the crime – so consider this background research.

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