Fashion has been an integral part of cinema since the very beginning, just as it played a central role in live theater for thousands of years before movies even existed. Clothing is all about self-expression, and characters’ clothing choices in movies play a major role in how they are perceived.
Of course, some films go further, making fashion in general or the fashion industry in particular the focus of their stories. There are many fashion movies to watch, but according to IMDb, these are the best.
ten Zoolander (2001) – 6.5
The 2001 comedy Zoolander features Ben Stiller as the titular Derek Zoolander, a model caught up in a conspiracy far beyond his vapid personality and comic ignorance to handle. Taking a comedic angle with the fashion industry wasn’t something Zoolander invented, but the film managed to become a classic.
ZoolanderThe celebrity cameos also add to the film’s satire and extend it to a wider send-off of celebrity culture. Although Zoolander 2 was a disappointing sequel, the original still holding up over 20 years later.
9 Gucci House (2021) – 6.6
After her star came back and wrote Oscar-winning songs for, A star is bornLady Gaga joined a star-studded cast that included Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Selma Hayek and more in Gucci Houseabout the Italian fashion label and the family behind it.
The film follows the relationship between Patrizia Reggiani, played by Gaga, and her husband Maurizio Gucci, played by Driver, as their relationship deteriorates to violence. The film carries a true-crime perspective in addition to its drama, as it’s based on a 2001 book that does the same thing.
8 Coco before Chanel (2009) – 6.7
Coco Chanel became a famous fashion designer of the 20th century, and the brand she helped establish remains one of the best in the industry to this day. The premise of the 2009 biopic Coco before Chanel is the journey she has taken to establish herself and her family name as global icons. Leading actress Audrey Tautou gives a mesmerizing performance as Coco Chanel.
The film received industry acclaim and numerous nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, although that year the award ultimately went to The young Victoriaanother film about the debut of a female icon: Queen Victoria.
7 Distraught (1995) – 6.9
There was a trend in the 1990s to have teen movies based on classic literature, and clueless fits neatly into this category as a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Directed by Fast times at Ridgemont High‘s Amy Heckerling, the film follows Alicia Silverstone as fashion-loving Cher Horowitz as she attempts to play matchmaker.
Even after 27 years, clueless manages to remain a classic teen comedy film, as well as a clever adaptation of its source material, taking what works Emma while managing to become its own story and have its own impact. Let’s hope Alicia Silverstone comes back, because she is very welcome!
6 The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – 6.9
What happens when Anne Hathaway plays Miranda Priestly’s assistant, editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine? The result is The devil wears Pradaone of Meryl Streep’s funniest films of all time, and not only an iconic film, but an incredibly re-watchable film.
Meryl Streep played a key role in making the film, but she also played a key role in helping it make such a splash on pop culture. The devil wears Prada is arguably the most iconic fashion movie of all time, and would probably be the first fashion movie that casual moviegoers could think of, if asked. There’s no way this one will be forgotten.
5 Fashion (2008) – 6.9
Priyanka Chopra has some great movies, but because her career started in Hindi cinema (aka “Bollywood”), many of them were overlooked by American audiences, and the movies of 2008 Fashion is one of them. Chopra stars as Meghna Mathur, a woman who aspires to be a model, and the transformations she undergoes in pursuit of that goal.
Fashion was Chopra’s first massive success as a movie star, and her performance was rightly acclaimed. Although the film is in Hindi, there are many places to find it with English subtitles, including, upon release, on Netflix; definitely worth a look for those interested in the premise.
4 Funny Face (1957) – 7.0
Who said old Hollywood couldn’t make good fashion movies? In the end, if you take Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and songwriting duo George and Ira Gershwin, you get a pretty memorable musical movie.
Funny head sees a fashion editor looking to create the next big fashion trend. She and her photographer, played by Astaire, then meet a beautiful store clerk, played by Hepburn, whose natural charm and good luck make her the perfect candidate to become a new model for the magazine.
3 Blood and Black Lace (1964) – 7.1
Blood and black lace is an Italian-language thriller that uses a fashion show as a setting. In the film, a masked killer stalks models, looking for a diary kept by one of the girls that details the personal lives of those in the fashion house.
For those who are more into Zoolander or The devil wears Prada, Blood and black lace is about as far from the ones as you can get, but it heavily features fashion as a motif. As an older foreign-language film, it’s definitely underrated, but for fans of thrillers or foreign films, it’s worth a watch.
2 Cruel (2021) – 7.3
Cruel It may not be a horror movie, but it’s the backstory of a character in its own right. Cruella de Vil first entered pop culture with the 1961 animated film 101 Dalmatiansand was the subject of two live-action films starring Glenn Close.
Cruella’s name epitomizes cruelty and devilishness, and that’s fitting considering her fashion idea in the original story is to kidnap Dalmatians to use their fur for coats. It’s honestly kind of weird that Disney decided to do the previous movie, but it did well with audiences.
1 The Phantom Thread (2017) – 7.4
If there was ever an actor whose name evoked a whole new level of acting, it’s Daniel Day-Lewis, a method actor’s method actor. Day-Lewis devoted himself entirely to his later roles, and his last film, ghost yarnin which he plays a renowned fictional fashion designer, was no exception.
For the film, Day-Lewis learned to make dresses by hand, to the point where it would have been able to accurately recreate a dress originally made by the man who inspired her character, Cristóbal Balenciaga. It is absolutely amazing, and ghost yarn was a great movie to retire to.
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