A Trilogy of Fashion Industry Documentaries

By Lippe Taylor / Posted on 02 November 2009

I just completed a trilogy of documentaries about the fashion industry. First I saw “The September Issue” when it was first released in theaters at the end of the summer. Then the movie “Valentino, The Last Emperor” which I saw on DVD last weekend. And then just last week I watched “Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags” which is now showing on HBO. Three great documentaries showing very different perspectives on the fashion industry.


“The September Issue” shows the marketing spin put on the industry and depicts a very short list of people who really do control what is “cool” — or so they think, and generally so we think. Watching the creative process was fascinating. Perhaps we need a little more creative and a little less process.

“Valentino, The Last Emperor” shows the brillance of one incredible designer who shaped an industry and influenced the world. It’s amazing how once he retired, the vision disappeared.

And then “Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags” which is all about the real workers in the industry: the sewers, the laborers, all the doers. The disturbing thing about this movie is how it chronicles the disappearance of American jobs as the fashion industry has not so slowly moved all production off shore. Literally 95% of the production in the industry is done over seas.

It was great fun to see an industry that I don’t know that much about from three different angles. Yet there are many parallels to marketing and to agencies. The creative process in “The September Issue”. The leadership and vision in “Valentino, The Last Emperor”. And the destruction of American jobs in “Schmatta, From Rags to Riches to Rags”.

What’s your experience? Jim.