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Still from "Zoolander"
Still from "Zoolander"

Why film has an undying obsession with the fashion world

Hollywood has gone into overdrive, milking the fashion industry for its blockbuster-ready stories

Long before The Intern wheezed at the box office, many were speculating whether or not it could best everyone’s favourite fashion film, The Devil Wears Prada. This was a similar premise. High-powered career woman ends up warming to irritating intern. But Anne Hathaway was in the boss role and Robert DeNiro was her rather competent assistant at a fledgling e-comm company.

The fact that the film was set-up to openly mock the aged really killed it. Instead of deriding the more outrageous aspects of the fashion industry – like the obvious discrepancies with how interns are treated – it backwardly told working women that you really can’t have it all. Yet audiences still flocked to see DeNiro figure out how to check his email, and it took in $180 million at the box office.

It hasn’t curbed our unending fascination with fashion story lines playing out on the big screen. Filmmakers are hoovering up fashion’s built-in spectacle and drama for stories that the ever-elusive female audience can connect to. Why? The answer lies in a craving by studios to fill theatre seats with the same people that pre-order Nicholas Sparks and drool over Magic Mike. Comic book movies will always light a fire under men; women are a tougher audience to attract.

2016 is set to be a bumper year for fashion’s welcome assault on cinema. Blockbusters like Zoolander 2 and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie will set the tone for smaller gems like The Neon Demon and Personal Shopper to connect with a legion of fashion fans and philistines alike. Here’s a rundown of all the industry crossover we can expect to see.


“One morning I woke and realized I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty,” Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn explains of the reason behind his latest project. Putting the darker – nay, imaginary – segments of the fashion world under the microscope, The Neon Demon is a fictional tale based on the Countess of Báthory. As the story goes, Báthory murdered young virgins and bathed in their blood in an attempt to remain youthful. Here, the supermodels are dipping into that pool of youth with which fashion eternally occupies itself, cannibalizing one another to remain forever young.


Kristen Stewart is teaming up once again with Olivier Assayas – the same director she worked with on meta-drama Clouds of Sils Maria. This time, it’s for… a ghost story? Currently shooting in Paris, then London, Prague and Oman, Personal Shopper is a ghost story set on the fringes of the fashion world. Info is thin on the ground, but it claims to flirt with elements of fantasy. As a brand ambassador for Chanel, Stewart can draw on personal experiences for her supernatural turn. Who knows, maybe she’ll communicate with Coco beyond the veil?


Continuing the antics of the first real exposé on the Life of a Male Model 14 years on, Zoolander 2 boasts bigger stunts, better poses, and more involvement from the industry. Slated to cameo are Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Olivia Munn, Penelope Cruz, and Justin Bieber. The plot is currently under wraps, but back in March, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson stormed the Valentino catwalk in a bid for a bit of publicity, and it naturally became the entire focus of the collection.


After stealing the show in The September Issue, American Vogue’s carrot-topped creative director Grace Coddington will get a biopic. The rights to her best-selling biography Grace: A Memoir were purchased by A24 – the production company behind indie releases like The Bling Ring, Ex Machina and Obvious Child. The book tells about Coddington’s upbringing in Anglesey, her move into fashion with a modelling contract, and her rise to one of the top job’s at Vogue. No one has yet been cast in the role of Grace, but we suggest Karen Elson.


You may have seen her, wading knee deep in the Thames the other week smoking a fag in a green sequin dress. Kate Moss emerged from the river sopping wet, confirming her cameo in the TV adaptation of Ab Fab. The BBC institution is finally getting the silver screen treatment. Poised to return are Joanna Lumley, who plays Patsy, and Jennifer Saunders, who plays Edina. Also rounding out the cast? Jean Paul Gaultier, Kim Kardashian West, and Joan Collins.