Studying Style on the Silver Screen


The word fashion has several connotations and the industry is known for its several stereotypes; from self-obsessed models to screaming fashion editors..

Ditzy fashionistas to materialistic, backbiting, immoral fashion honchos, we have read and seen every version of the stereotype possible.

Thankfully, there’s also been attention that goes beyond the stereotypes and the already publicised. A couple of weeks ago, I listed out reads that every book-loving fashionista should cosy up with. If you aren’t a book lover, and audiovisual avatars are more to your liking, then these movies and documentaries will take you beyond the runway and into the eye of the style storm.

The Devil Wears Prada: 

So let’s start with the obvious; I would be in serious danger of being discredited if I didn’t include the most famous and probably most watched fashion film of all time, The Devil Wears Prada.

After all, where would we be without Meryl Streep’s spectacular performance as Miranda, Priestly, the editor of an iconic fashion magazine? Also starring Anne Hathaway as the assistant to the editor at the bottom of the fashion food chain, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci, this movie gave us a peek into what it’s like to have a job, “a million girls would kill for,” albeit fictionally.

Bill Cunningham New York:

This 2010 documentary celebrated inarguably, the most famous street photographer in the world and the inventor of what we know today, as street style. Till his passing away in 2016, he documented what, the who’s who of the fashion world and the eccentric dressers you would meet on the street, for the NYT. An influential name in the industry, no image was as striking as Bill Cunningham photographing someone in his trademark blue jacket. This documentary captures why, as Anna Wintour puts it, in the movie, “We all get dressed for Bill.”

Coco Avant Chanel:

If you love fashion, you know the story of Coco Chanel, and if you don’t, then this movie on the pathbreaking designer’s early years is a must watch. Audrey Tatou plays Gabrielle Chanel in this biopic which traces her early years; Well before she became a formidable name and travelled from being a poor bar performer to a seamstress and milliner. You learn about her early inspiration, her life before fashion, and what cemented her place in fashion history.

The September Issue:

That, Vogue’s September issue is a fashion bible, is a given. But how does this gigantic style tome come to life..? The September Issue, a documentary, walks you through the doors of Vogue and gives you access to the editors and stylists (read: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington and the wonderfully witty Andre Leon Talley) who put together this mammoth glossy. There is humour, there is drama, there is talent, and then, there is oodles of fashion. What else would you want?!


When I was growing up, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson starring in a movie together, guaranteed laughs. And Zoolander was testament to their incredible comic timing and their sparkling on-screen chemistry. Starring Stiller in the eponymous role, the movie (which was also directed by Stiller) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the industry, poking fun at it, and its stereotypes.

From the slightly-less-on-brain-power model brigade to the always stressed but extraordinarily talented designers. This one’s a laugh riot !

Other honorable mentions include Iris, a documentary that traces Iris Apfel’s enthusiasm for all things fashion, Dior and I, a documentary about designer Raf Simon’s work for Christian Dior, Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire about book store clerk who becomes the next It model, and Prêt-à-Porter, with an ensemble cast which chronicles the interconnect lives of people as they prepare for the Paris Fashion Week.

These movies aren’t educational; they are what you would call a slice of life, a tiny peek into a world that just gets more intriguing, the more you interact with it.

Get ready to get addicted. It’s an obsession that never dies..

Tulika Nair

Tulika Nair is a content strategist and creator with almost a decade's experience in television , print & digital media and a focus on the fashion and luxury industry. She has combined her love for writing with a deep interest in fashion to unearth what fashion means to society, its aspiration , and its identity.

Latest posts by Tulika Nair (see all)