Alongside constant handwashing, avoiding public gatherings—or social distancing—has become society’s most effective measure to keep our communities safe from the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools and businesses closed, office work relocated into domestic spaces, and the general hustle and bustle of life temporarily put on pause, we must keep ourselves occupied during this period of responsible isolation. What better remedy for this social sabbatical than to gather your friends for a Netflix Party session, and catch up on some fashion and culture documentaries the streaming service has to offer. We at S/ have assembled a list of essential titles that will fulfill your need for fabulous content.
Maddman: The Steve Madden Story
Steve Madden’s tumultuous past and subsequent rise to retail ubiquity is chronicled in this biographical film. Maddman unpacks the humanizing backstory of this footwear visionary, and features illuminating first-hand accounts from Madden himself, creating a personalized portrait of hardship and defiance. For those readers interested in stories tinged with criminal behaviour, this documentary is the perfect fit for you.
Franca: Chaos and Creation
Since passing away in 2016, former Italian Vogue editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani has been eulogized by the fashion industry for her immense contributions to the world of magazine publishing. However, Franca: Chaos and Creation adds another, more intimate layer to her legacy—motherhood. Directed by Franca’s son Francesco Carrozzini, the film proudly displays her professional accomplishments while also revealing her unwavering devotion to her son. The film features interviews with the late Karl Lagerfeld, Courtney Love, Naomi Campbell, and Valentino, to name a few.
Lee Alexander McQueen rose to prominence thanks to his daring designs and penchant for extravagant showmanship that left the fashion community utterly transfixed. McQueen’s untimely death in 2010 saw the loss of a truly unique innovator—a life cut short due to internal demons that took a stronghold of his psyche. Filmmaker Ian Bonhôte traces the acclaimed designer’s beginnings as a transgressive student at Central St. Martens, highlighting his unique trajectory into fashion history, while also revealing his personal strife that ultimately took his life.
Paris Is Burning
This landmark documentary from 1990 details New York’s underground ball culture, which united marginalized individuals with a flair for the fabulous. Viewers are given access to a radical subculture, which has since trickled its way into the mainstream thanks to figures such as RuPaul and the Drag Race phenomenon. Fearless fashions are mixed with harrowing stories of rejection, yet a defiant aura persists as a community of eccentrics find a common place to unapologetically express their individuality.
Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women
John Casablancas, founder of Elite Model Management, is the focus of this exploratory documentary that uncovers a man who has contributed significantly to fashion’s history. Filmmaker Hubert Woroniecki showcases how Casablancas enlivened the world of modeling by catapulting a crew of unique personalities, including Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, into the limelight. Alongside his cosmopolitan lifestyle and charming demeanor, the film illustrates how the notion of the all-powerful supermodel got its start in the Elite offices.
Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer
Jeremy Scott has carved himself a niche as a designer, allowing his bold and campy designs to become instantly recognizable. Featuring appearances by Rihanna, Paris Hilton, and Devon Aoki, the documentary highlights Scott’s defiance of fashion tradition and acceptable taste in search of unique methods of expression. Get a glimpse at how this Missouri-born iconoclast rose through the ranks of fashion’s elite, without comprising his aesthetic concerns.
Images courtesy of IMDb.