Men in Fashion: Documentary Close Up

Think fashion is a woman's game? Think again. A quick look at the fashion world’s head designers shows a landscape in which men dominate. Guillaume Henry runs Nina Ricci, Peter Copping is Creative Director at Oscar De La Renta, Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud hold the reins at Carven, Raf Simons creates the magic at Christian Dior, Adam Andrascik is the new head at Guy Laroche,  and, in January, Alessandro Michele was named as the successor to Frida Giannini at Gucci. Many of these appointments have taken place in the last 12 months but savvy documentary makers have been following the stories of men in fashion for many years. We take a look at some of our favourite men in fashion.

Paul Smith

The quirky designer and formidable businessman was the subject of the the 2012 film ‘Paul Smith: Gentleman Designer’ from Stéphane Carrel. The British designer has 400 shops and outlets in 35 countries, 12 clothing lines, 400 million Euros in yearly revenues, sales topping Chanel's, partnerships with Evian, Apple, and Austin, and prestigious bicycle and race car brands. So how did a man with no formal training become one of the first designers to get millions of men interested in fashion? How did a modest man from Nottingham become synonymous with sophistication in men's fashion? ‘Paul Smith: Gentleman Designer’ is an intimate and provoking portrait of Lord Paul Smith (knighted in 2000). His story is told through exclusive access to the icon of British fashion; his mischievous nature, constant curiosity for life and enduring elegance.

Bill Cunningham

You may not know the name Bill Cunningham but there’s no mistaking his photography and style. The veteran New York Times photographer is known for his candid and street photography; taking pictures of the people and passing scene in the streets of everyday Manhattan and their genuine usage of clothing to express personal style. ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ is Richard Press's ten-years-in-the-making portrait of the 81-year-old artist, following the man who has dedicated his life to to documenting city fashion one outfit at a time. Cunningham has some pretty high-flying admirers, Vogue editor Anna Wintour credits him with spotting future fashion trends the rest of the industry goes to school on and designer Oscar De La Renta has said "More than anyone else in the city, he has the whole visual history of the last 40 or 50 years of New York. It's the total scope of fashion in the life of New York”. Watching this fashion aficionado and his passion for his craft is a gratifying and captivating viewing experience.

Ari Seth Cohen

'Why do we only look towards younger people as our fashion icons? Why not look to the people who really know what they're doing?'. This is the mantra of New York blogger Ari Seth Cohen, who’s infamous blog ‘Advanced Style’ spawned the 2014 documentary of the same name. The blog was started as a way of documenting his grandmother’s remarkable dress sense and the site quickly gained in popularity and resulted in influencing not just Cohen’s peers but the contemporaries of the generation he documents. The feature film ‘Advanced Style’ examines the lives of seven unique New Yorkers whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging. It paints intimate and colorful portraits of independent, stylish women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, aging, and Western’s culture’s increasing obsession with youth. Cohen has nothing but respect for these women, and it is his genuine affection and enthusiasm for those he meets that creates the warm and life-affirming tone infusing this work from first time director Lina Plioplyte.

Raf Simons

The new creative director of legendary fashion house Christian Dior took on one of the most daunting challenges of his career when he had just eight weeks to step into an iconic role and create a runway show worthy of the fashion elite. With beginnings in furniture design, Simons launched his own menswear label in 1995 before joining Dior in 2012. A minimalist, Simons was seen by some as an odd choice for Dior and the anxiety is certainly evident in his lack of interest in interviews or walking how own catwalk. ‘Dior and I’, from Frédéric Tcheng, brings the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as its new artistic director—a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure- filled components of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic brand’s past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons’ vision.