The Fashion Collection (2015, 4 DVD Box Set)

6 Jun

fashion

It’s no secret that I’m a die hard fashion victim. My closet, if you can call it that, stretches well beyond five metres of racks, and includes something I call “the shoe room”. Indulgent? Yes. Remorseful? No. So when I saw this tasty morsel, a collection of four dvd documentaries on fashion, which married my twin passions for clothing and cinema, I was sold…come home to mummy, darling.

I began my fashion odyssey with R.J. Cutler’s highly acclaimed 2009 documentary The September Issue. Admittedly, my distaste for Anna Wintour’s wintery disposition runs fairly deep which is why I hadn’t run out to see the film much sooner, little did I know this isn’t really Anna’s vehicle…. No, The September Issue is more a fairytale centred on Vogue’s then creative director, Grace Coddington, who emerges like a resplendent bird of paradise from among the tangled bed of weeds that is the fashion industry. Try as she might, Anna’s ever dour presence never quite manages to squash Grace’s beautiful heart, or passion for her photo shoots. Instead, audiences are wowed by the breathtaking beauty Grace creates, when she gasps with wonderment we gasp with her, when she near cries over her work being cut from the magazine we reach for the tissues too. There’s more emotional meat here than I could have ever anticipated, and a surprisingly fairytale ending to wrap up a truly excellent piece of documentary cinema.

Buoyed by this surprise delight, I moved on to what was my top draw card in the box, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ About Face: Supermodels Then and Now. Described as interviews on the careers of the original supermodels, on ageing, and their careers, this was the one complete let down in the set. Isabella Rossellini and Carmen Dell’Orefice get to briefly touch on the concept of ageing and how that affects them in an industry built on ageism, but before anything interesting, revealing, or terribly honest can be said the film cuts. The remainder of the interviews are made up of fluffy excerpts on the models’ heydays, and plenty of scenes of Jerry Hall giggling to herself absentmindedly. The only truly interesting segments come from Bethann Hardison, China Machado, and Pat Cleveland recounting anecdotes detailing race and gender queer issues from their youth. Unfortunately, these brief moments of real documentary making aren’t enough to flesh out this poorly padded fluff piece.

A tad deflated, I popped in Vlad Yudin’s Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer; an interview based account of Scott’s remarkable journey from small town farm boy to the head designer at Moschino. Throughout, Scott’s peculiar mixture of earthiness and eccentricity collide to create a picture of a man so full of contradiction and humanity that the viewer cannot help but be infatuated by his enigma. Ultimately, it is that perfect harmony of opposites, and his refusal to conform that make Scott the perfect choice to bring Franco Moschino’s design house into the 21st century, and a remarkably engaging narrator.

Finally, I delved into the luscious world of haute couture with  Frédéric Tcheng’s Dior and I; a sumptuously filmed peek into the machinations behind Raf Simons’ first haute collection for the house of Dior, overlayed with excerpts from Christian Dior’s own autobiography Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior. Tcheng devotes equal time to the many triumphs and meltdowns Simons suffers creating the collection at break neck speed, and loving portraits of the oft unsung women and men who bring the gowns to life at their sewing machines. It’s a delightful and unexpected touch that lends warmth to an environment of austerity. Into this mix, Raf’s giddy, giggling, precious right hand man Pieter Mulier, adds additional light and levity to create a documentary which mixes taste, artistic vision, and humanity. A total joy to watch.

All in all, three out of four may not be a home run for The Fashion Collection, but it certainly isn’t a bad effort. The highs are dizzying and certainly make up for the single low point, a must have for fashionistas and documentary buffs alike.

 

Ed

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