The best fashion films coming soon to a cinema near you, this time with Anna Wintour as herself
As fashion descends into total chaos with designers bowing out left, right and centre, there is no better time to immortalise the widespread insanity on the big screen. Hollywood thrives on drama, and the fashion world is serving up inspiration in spades. With ample source material, directors are increasingly dead set on showcasing just how entertaining things can get. Cannibal supermodels, personal shoppers and intense catwalk showdowns are the set pieces in a rash of new films, which have made fashion its muse. There are plenty of upcoming films that have used the rag trade as a jumping off point for outlandish tales or which offer an all-access pass to a brilliant event. Here are just seven flicks which should be dog-eared in any fashion fan’s diary.
THE NEON DEMON
The next bloodletting epic from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn takes place in the high-stakes world of modelling. Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an attractive ingénue who peaks the interest of industry vets. Rivals who are envious of her youth and vitality will stop at nothing to buff Jesse’s edge, even resorting to cannibalism. Refn has taken inspiration from the Tale of Countess Bathory, about a 16th-century serial killer who would bathe in the blood of her victims as a part of her beauty regimen. He reportedly got the idea when he realised he was “constantly surrounded by women” and wanted to make a horror film out of it. Naturally, it’s already being compared to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010), which pitted prima ballerinas against each other, witnessing them spiral out of control. The Neon Demon is about to do the same when it hits cinemas on July 8, but for the world of fashion.
THE BATTLE OF VERSAILLES
In 1973, a monumental fashion showdown took place at France’s Palais de Versailles. The show set five French fashion designers against five American fashion designers. It was the ultimate test of which country reigned supreme. Based on fashion reporter Robin Ghivan’s 2015 book The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History, the adaptation will be an energetic lecture on how American designers like Halston cracked Europe. It was a rich spectacle. Crowds in attendance had to pick up their jaws after stunning performances by Josephine Baker, Liza Minnelli and Rudolph Nureyev. The runway was dominated by no less than ten African-American models, a pioneering move at the time. For director Ava DuVernay, who headed up last year’s racially charged Selma, this tournament will be made into a hallmark event, hopefully putting to rest the age-old debate about whether New York or Paris is the true fashion capital du monde. Or at the very least, which it was in 1973.
UNTITLED ALEXANDER MCQUEEN BIOPIC
Alexander Lee McQueen’s story has been told in an exhibition, a musical, a hefty coffee table book and now it’s getting the cinematic treatment. Formidable director Andrew Haigh, who was nominated for his heart-melting look at ageing love 45 Years (2015), is attached to direct. How will his take differ from what we already know about the enfant terrible? The biopic will reportedly focus not on the entirety of his life, but on a single part of it. Haigh has promised “an interesting take on his life and the biopic form,” he told ScreenDaily. “More interesting to me is the person, him as an artist trying to get his work done and express how he sees the world. That is what is fascinating to me.” As the director behind iconic gay drama Weekend (2011), Haigh will mine Lee’s personal life without dehumanising the formidable creative.
THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY
With The First Monday in May, we get an insider’s look at the immense pressure to organise such a mammoth event. Director Andrew Rossi offers a behind-the-scenes look at last year’s affair, the controversially themed “China: Through The Looking Glass”. Organisers and media had sweaty palms over how that theme would be interpreted by VIP guests. With Anna Wintour guiding the ship, however, it went off without a hitch. As a spiritual sequel of sorts to The September Issue (2009), viewers will not only get a backstage pass into the year’s most glamorous event but into the mind’s eye of fashion’s revered “Pope”. Out September in UK theatres, The First Monday in May is an eye-watering look at the Brobdingnagian production to open The Costume Institute’s Spring exhibition.
Keeping audiences and Twihards guessing by consistently choosing left-of-centre roles, Kristen Stewart has scooped a César award for Clouds of Sils Maria on her way to indie glory. Pairing up with Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas once again, Stewart does supernatural damage in Personal Shopper. Although booed at its first Cannes screening, the film got its retribution with a four-minute standing ovation at its official Cannes premiere. Stewart plays the titular shopper, Maureen, nabbing deals from blue chip brands for an airheaded celebrity. However, her true mission is to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother, who she believes is sending her signs from beyond the veil.
Sneakerheads should rejoice to hear there is a feature film on the way celebrating the most die-hard sneaker fans and their obsession: collecting sneakers. Kicks, by director Justin Tipping, follows the fictional story of 15-year-old Brandon. Once he scrounges up enough money to buy a fresh pair of covetable sneakers, he becomes the victim of a footwear heist. Neighbourhood bully Flaco jumps him and gets away with his red Air Jordans. Brandon refuses to accept this, heading out in his mom’s slippers to retrieve his prized kicks. He decides to meet with his drug dealer uncle. How far will he go to confront his tormentor? This marks Tipping’s directorial debut, and with rapturous reviews after screening at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, we can’t wait for Kicks to drop.
To date, over 23,000 people have flocked to Los Angeles’s LACMA gallery for a retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe’s career. Now, the photographer is next in line for a documentary. His stark and lurid images of gay men and fetishists will resurface in a new film from director Ondi Timoner. Mapplethorpe will be played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, with Zosia Mamet — who you probably know best as Shoshanna in Girls — slated to play Patti Smith, one of his muses and former lover. Timoner knows how to drive a story home. She’s done so previously with intense rock doc Dig! (2004), about The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and most recently with funny man Russell Brand’s clarion call, Brand: A Second Coming (2015). Mapplethorpe had an unending fascination with the BDSM scene, shocking the public with raw images of homoeroticism. With Timoner unafraid to tackle tough subjects, this is bound to give us a new perspective on such a beloved artist.