Tribeca Film Festival 2018 offers several films about art and artists, but perhaps the most compelling selection is the list of Fashion Films — three documentaries that profile fascinating characters from the fashion world.
Here is the list:
Recognition from Paris’s Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is considered the apex of the fashion industry, and Chinese designer Guo Pei is determined to reach it. With a remarkable eye for detail and exquisite blending of visual art forms, veteran documentarian Pietra Brettkelly captures Guo’s drive, artistry, meticulousness, and acumen, from the designer’s emergence on the international scene—when Rihanna wore her hand-embroidered canary yellow gown to the Met Gala in 2015—through her remarkable 2017 show “Legend,” presented at La Conciergerie, in Paris.
Along the way, Brettkelly reveals the myriad opposing forces that confront Guo’s ambitions: those of tradition versus modernity; acceptance versus prejudice; and ensuring a thriving business versus pursuing more expensive and exclusive techniques. Most of all, she highlights the pressures China’s economic rise places on its individual artisans—as Guo puts it, “I’m a designer, not a nation.” Nevertheless, Guo thrives amid these challenges, establishing herself as a singularly capable and uncompromising warrior for her art. With loving fidelity for Guo’s work, Brettkelly depicts both the process and the fashion itself, resulting in a timely examination of what it takes for an outsider to earn acclaim from one of the West’s most redoubtable institutions.
André Leon Talley—unmistakable in his regal stature, his fiercely original way with words, and his incomparable historical knowledge of couture—has been a fixture of the fashion world for more than 40 years. A mentee of the legendary editor Diana Vreeland, Talley called Vogue home for years; he served as news director, creative director, and, finally, editor-at-large, until 2013. As he drifts effortlessly from the front row at fashion weeks across the globe to television appearances and New York Times assignments, one begins to wonder how such an original as Talley came to be.
In Kate Novack’s film, the viewer is invited back to his childhood in Jim Crow-era North Carolina. His beloved grandmother, Bennie, raised him, schooling him in decorum, religion, and, unsurprisingly, clothes, sparking an early and powerful love for all things fashion. This led him to New York City, where he battled—and continues to battle—both racist and homophobic assumptions about black men in the industry. With great insight, Novack pulls back the curtain on this towering icon, revealing new and beautifully vulnerable moments with Talley—as well as endlessly hilarious ones—as he discusses his storied career and the women who helped him achieve it.
Beginning with his modest upbringing in London, Lee Alexander McQueen quickly ascended the ranks of the international fashion world. After graduating from Central Saint Martins and establishing his eponymous label, McQueen became head designer of Givenchy at age 27 and went on to win the Fashion Awards’ (then the British Fashion Awards) prize for British Designer of the Year four times. His theatrical runway shows and daring designs existed on the cutting edge of ’90s fashion, his controversial and confrontational work earning him equal attention from fans and detractors alike. At the same time, he also forged a friendship with the influential stylist Isabella Blow, cultivating an intimate relationship that would last until her death in 2007. As McQueen’s star rose, so did the pressure, and accompanying anxiety, to constantly strive for ever greater heights of genius.
McQueen, the documentary, at Tribeca
Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s documentary tells McQueen’s story through the testimonials from his closest friends and family. Featuring personal archives extending back to the earliest days of his career, as well as dynamic footage of his most boundary-pushing shows and creations, McQueen offers a vivid portrait of the tortured but inspired auteur’s work and persona.
If you’re hungry for more, check out the fashion films from Tribeca 2017. (Google them; you can surely find them streaming somewhere.)
Zac Posen has become one the most recognizable faces in modern fashion with his truly unique aesthetic style. He is a force to be reckoned with whose talent shone through as early as childhood. However like any journey to great success it hasn’t come without cost.
Follow the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “China: Through the Looking Glass,” exhibition, by curator Andrew Bolton. With unprecedented access, director Andrew Rossi captures the collision of high fashion and celebrity at the Met Gala, and dives into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art.