Ever since The Devil Wears Prada hit theaters back in 2006, the public's appetite for behind-the-scenes cinematic accounts of what actually goes on behind fashion's front door have gone from mildly exited to totally insatiable. In the years since the debut of the film—which follows a fictional fashion magazine assistant who plays slave to an editor widely known to be based on one of fashion's most intriguing figures (Vogue’s Anna Wintour) as she attempts to climb the sartorial ladder—numerous fashion documentaries have been released. Legendary designers Karl Lagerfeld and Valentino have each been canonized in their own namesake films. Not to mention Sundance debuted Marc Jacobs + Louis Vuitton, directed by Loïc Prigent (who likewise filmed the five-episode series Signé Chanel, which sheds light on the rarely seen artisans behind the iconic house's haute couture creations) in the same three-year period.
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And, interest only seems to be growing. One of the most heavily anticipated fashion documentaries ever is slated for release next month. The September Issue, which follows Wintour, her longtime collaborators, and myriad minions as they assemble Vogue's September issue from start to finish, has had the fashion industry buzzing for months. Also in September, Sundance will dip back into the fashion-doc pool with its latest dose of healthy voyeurism with The Day Before, a four-part series that follows big-name designers in the 36 hours before a fashion week presentation. Needless to say, there's no shortage of food for thought when it comes to taking a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most exclusive industries around. From the timeless Douglas Keeve’s Unzipped to Wim Wenders’ less conventional approach with Notebook on Cities & Clothes, see our gallery for the dozen best fashion documentaries to have hit a television or theater near you (most of which are fortunately still stocked at Netflix).
Alisa Gould-Simon is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer. She also covers fashion and culture for BlackBook, New York magazine, and PAPER among other publications.