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Fashion’s best documentaries – plus a chance to see Dior & I

Ahead of the UK release of Dior I, the documentary about Raf Simons’s first haute couture collection for the fashion house, the Guardian is hosting a screening of the film and a live interview with director Frédéric Tcheng at Clapham Picturehouse in London on Thursday 19 March. Here are the highlights to look out for in Dior I, plus four more brilliant fashion documentaries to watch.

Dior I

Raf Simons analyses a dress in Dior I. Photograph: Dior

The story: Raf Simons, a designer best known for his work at minimalist label Jil Sander, has been appointed creative director of the fabled French design house Dior. His first collection will be haute couture – the most arduous, labour-intensive discipline in fashion.

Standout character: Florence, the head of the couture atelier, who is slightly in love with Raf’s right-hand man Pieter Mulier. “It’s a pity he’s gay,” she says, mournfully, in a lift.

Best fashion item: Simons’s bermuda shorts. He pairs them, incongruously, with a crisp white shirt, black jumper and black business socks, and always looks elegant.

Quote this: “Sublime”. Simons’s compliment of choice – pronounced “Suub-leeeeeeme”. Classy.

Valentino: The Last Emperor, 2008

The story: An examination of Valentino Garavani’s 45-year career and relationship with partner Giancarlo Giammetti as he rails against the modernisation of the fashion business and strives to bring beauty to every aspect of his life.

Scene stealer: Valentino’s pug entourage, who fly on private jets, wear diamond earrings and have their teeth brushed by staff.

Best fashion item: Watch out for Valentino’s white suits and layered shirts. The epitome of elegance.

Quote this: “An evening dress that reveals a woman’s ankles while walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.” Quite.

The September Issue, 2009

The story: The Vogue team are pulling together the biggest – and most profitable – issue of the magazine all year. Cue clashes about whether pink is “important” enough to be included (crestfallen stylist: “I thought it was pretty”) and on-brand imperiousness from Anna Wintour.

Scene stealer: Grace Coddington, the cheeky, passionate and supremely talented creative director, who dares to roll her eyes at Wintour and attempts to sneak extra pictures into photoshoots against her wishes.

Best fashion item: Editor-at-large André Leon Talley’s Louis Vuitton tennis trunk, which he teams with a Louis Vuitton hat, towel, clutch and racket case when Wintour tries to inspire him to get some exercise. Why settle for a battered rucksack?

Quote this: “She looks pregnant. We need to fix her.” (Wintour on Jennifer Garner).

Lagerfeld Confidential, 2007

The story: A profile of fashion’s most prolific, and quotable, designer, shot over three years.

Scene stealer: The poster in the office men’s toilets: “Pissing everywhere isn’t very Chanel.”

Best fashion item: As accessories go, Diet Coke served on a silver tray, as Karl likes it, is pretty strong.

Quote this: Where to start? Maybe: “When I took on Chanel, it was a sleeping beauty – not even a beautiful one; she snored,” or perhaps: “I’m rather pro-prostitution. I admire people who do it. It can’t be much fun. Thank goodness for it. People need relief or they become murderers.”

Mademoiselle C, 2013

The story: Carine Roitfeld – muse to Tom Ford and formerly the editor of French Vogue – launches her own fashion magazine, CR book.

Scene stealer: Roitfeld’s granddaughter Romy, who is taken on a test drive in a Bugaboo pram around a photographic studio by Lagerfeld while the Chanel boss debates the merits of breastfeeding with her mother, Julia.

Best fashion item: Roitfeld’s taupe ballet clothes. Very Kanye West for Adidas.

Quote this: Makeup artist Tom Pecheux hints at the ultimate horror in a drunken conversation with Roitfeld: “If you were reincarnated, you would come back as you, but with fat ankles.”

  • Guardian Membership is hosting a screening of Dior I followed by a QA with the director, Frederic Tcheng, at 6.30pm on Thursday 19 March at Clapham Picturehouse. Book tickets here.

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