Oh, the glamorous yet terrifying world of high-end fashion. Full of exacting designers, scary magazine editors, and rich businessmen—who wouldn’t want to be part of that industry?
From chick-flick classics to drama-heavy productions featuring household names like Coco Chanel, here are our picks for the best movies ever made that dive into the daunting world of fashion.
8. Greed (2019)
Sir Richard McCreadie is—as you might guess from the honorific—a successful businessman and millionaire. Scratch that: billionaire. And how did he make all that cash? Clothes. Or, more specifically, his questionable ethics around those clothes.
The fashion mogul, played by Steve Coogan, is a satire of real-life retail chairman Philip Green. “Greedy” McCreadie uses sweat shops and asset stripping to bang a hefty buck, but his lavish lifestyle is brought to a halt by a public government inquiry.
Director Michael Winterbottom tells Greedy’s story in non-chronological order, darting between his rise to fame and the build-up to his 60th birthday party on the island of Mykonos.
The chaotic, almost documentary-like approach to filming perfectly mirrors Greedy’s bustling businessman life, which awkward journalist Nick (played by David Mitchell) attempts to compile into Greedy’s memoir.
7. Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Coco Before Chanel is, quite literally, about Gabrielle Chanel’s life before her brand Coco Chanel skyrocketed. The famous French designer revolutionized the female fashion industry, stripping back the corsets and long skirts for trousers and practical (yet stylish) clothing.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was a fiercely independent woman during a pivotal century for feminism. Coco Before Chanel explores Gabrielle’s determination to succeed without the help of a man, which translated into her physically-freeing style of women’s clothing.
Audrey Tautou stars as the passionate businesswoman, directed by Anne Fontaine, in this chic biopic full of ambition and inspiration.
6. The Dressmaker (2015)
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This one may not exactly be about chasing your dreams in the fashion industry, but it does feature a lot of fabric and sewing machines. Kate Winslet packs a punchy central performance as a vengeful dressmaker accused of murder.
At just 10 years old, Myrtle Dunnage is blamed for the death of a classmate in the Australian outback and sent away. She trains in the garment-making trade and returns to her old town twenty-five years later, only to find that her mother doesn’t even remember her.
The poster might look like an airy-fairy period piece, but The Dressmaker is packed with dark twists and macabre themes. Myrtle—now called Tilly—makes extravagant dresses for the women of Dungatar, but competition soon emerges. Jocelyn Moorhouse directs this comedy-drama.
5. Cruella (2021)
Cruella de Vil is the infamous Disney villain who’s desperate for a fur coat made of Dalmatian puppies. Originally the antagonist of Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil is a feisty and monochrome fashionista splashed with pops of red.
She has been reinvented time and again, both in cartoon form (1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians) and live-action (1996’s 101 Dalmatians), and in 2021 was brought to the big screen another time by Craig Gillespie in his crime-comedy movie.
Emma Stone brilliantly embodies the iconic villain, who begins life as a creative child named Estrella. After her mother dies, Estrella is left orphaned and drunkenly redecorates a window display in London.
Luckily, this lands her a job in the store and she puts her thieving days behind her. But will working under the callous haute couture designer Baroness von Hellman (played by Emma Thompson) be too much?
4. House of Gucci (2021)
The star ensemble cast for Ridley Scott’s newest movie is enough to entice us in alone. Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Jared Leto? Yes, please!
Lady Gaga is the star of the show, of course, holding the screen with sass, strength, and style. As a pop star known for her wild fashion choices, Gaga is a perfect fit for any film about fashion and clothes.
House of Gucci recounts the evolution of the Gucci brand after humble Italian outsider Patrizia Reggiani (played by Lady Gaga) marries the grandson of Guccio Gucci, the founder of the label. But there’s more than just designing suits to this wealthy family.
Strained relationships, disinheritance, and tax evasion make it a bumpy ride for all members. Scott’s biographical crime drama is everything you could want in a Hollywood movie: glitz, glamour, melodrama, A-list actors, police investigations, and glossy cinematography.
3. Last Night in Soho (2021)
Last Night in Soho isn’t just one genre—that would be far too simple for renowned director Edgar Wright. It’s crime, drama, horror, supernatural, slasher, coming-of-age… with a bizarre plot that blurs lines between past and present, real and hallucinatory, our world and the dream world.
Way back in the Swingin’ Sixties, the life of wannabe singer Sandie (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is ruined by a seductive pimp named Jack (played by Matt Smith).
Fast-forward fifty years and young Ellie Turner (played by Thomasin McKenzie)—inspired by the 60s aesthetic—dreams of becoming a fashionista. She hops a train to the London College of Fashion, but the student life isn’t all it’s hyped up to be.
Instead, she spends her time living in the past… literally. Every night, Ellie dreams that she’s in the body of the beautiful and confident Sandie back during the 1960s, but the pimp Jack’s dominance starts to get messy. Soon, all of Ellie’s worlds begin to mesh in a horrifying revelation.
2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Chick-flicks get a bad rap in the movie world, but any film buff will tell you that the writing, structure, and character development in The Devil Wears Prada is actually incredible. Hence why it’s so popular!
Meryl Streep plays the iconic Miranda Priestly, who’s not only the editor-in-chief for esteemed fashion magazine Runway, but also completely impossible to please. While the whole office is scared of her, ignorant newbie Andy (played by Anne Hathaway) doesn’t realize her power.
Andy is a wannabe journalist desperate for a job, who’s hired by Miranda for her ignorance—because Miranda’s past experience taught her that fashionable young assistants are incompetent. Perhaps someone who knows nothing about the fashion world will prove better?
Though they initially clash, Andy learns the ways of the Runway world and becomes educated in all things beauty, fashion, and business.
1. Phantom Thread (2017)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson and esteemed actor Daniel Day-Lewis make an awesome pair, and Phantom Thread is glowing proof.
Far removed from the fast-paced city lifestyle of the high-fashion industry in The Devil Wears Prada, Phantom Thread takes us into the old-school world of 1950s dressmaking.
Set in London, Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) makes beautiful lavish dresses for celebrities and royalty alike. He’s meticulous, cold, and unimpressed by everyone around him. His strictly organized lifestyle is held together by his sister Cyril (played by Lesley Manville), but turned upside-down when a new muse enters the scene.
Woodcock ends up having an affair with the much-younger Alma (played by Vicky Krieps), who serves as his greatest inspiration when designing clothes. However, his true colors eventually show through—and Alma finds his finicky, domineering personality too much to bear.
Phantom Thread is a stunningly shot slow-burner, draped in a vintage sort of charm that’s at once elegant and melancholy.