Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist.

SINGAPORE (Oct 15): Since igniting the punk movement with ex-partner and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Dame Vivienne Westwood has been redefining British fashion for over 40 years and is responsible for creating many of the most distinctive looks of recent times. Directed by Lorna Tucker, the film explores Westwood’s uphill struggle to success, looking closely at her artistry, activism and cultural significance. Blending iconic archive and newly shot observational footage, this era-defining, intimate origin story is told in Westwood’s own words and through touching interviews with her inner circle of family, friends and collaborators. The film goes from her childhood in post-war Derbyshire to the runways of Paris and Milan. The richly textured narrative transcends the standard fashion film format to become an intimate and inspiring portrait of a true British icon: single mother, punk and agent provocateur.

Yellow is Forbidden

This movie is a modern-day Cinderella story where the brave, diminutive and daring heroine’s dream does not end at the ball. China’s Guo Pei is chasing every designer’s fantasy to become part of the exclusive yet savage world of haute couture. Set within the new China, Yellow is Forbidden is a feature documentary encompassing contemporary global power dynamics, the opposition between art and commerce, and a look back at the history of couture, all wrapped around the beauty of fashion. Relatively unknown before Rihanna wore her breathtaking canary yellow gown to the 2015 Met Gala and broke the internet (simultaneously spawning an unending number of memes), Guo Pei has since captured the imagination of the global fashion industry. Directed by New Zealand filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly, the film follows Guo Pei as she applies for membership of Paris’ rarified Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Yellow is Forbidden was selected for the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is the first Kiwi film to screen in its main competition.

McQueen

This compelling new documentary examines the extraordinary life and career of one of Britain’s most influential fashion designers, Lee McQueen, aka Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide in 2010. Championed by the late magazine editor Isabella Blow, Anna Wintour and best friend Kate Moss, this intimate biopic spans his student days at Central Saint Martins to his influential collections (Highland Rape 1995, Golden Shower 1998), designing for Givenchy in 1997 through to his untimely death at age 40. His provocative designs, expert tailoring and understanding of fashion is just a small part of the legacy he has left behind. The film was a deeply personal project by directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, who said in a statement, “McQueen saw himself as much as a storyteller as a fashion designer, and the emphasis he put on the emotional narratives that drove his work inspired us as filmmakers. We decided always to favour emotion over information in this portrait. If you, the audience, don’t feel the exhilarating highs and tragic depths of McQueen’s extraordinary story, well, we’re not doing our jobs properly.

The Gospel According to André

André Leon Talley has been a fixture in the world of fashion for so long that it is difficult to imagine a time when he was not defining the boundaries of great style. Kate Novack’s intimate portrait, The Gospel According to André, takes viewers on an emotional journey from André’s roots — he grew up in the segregated Jim Crow South — to him becoming one of the most influential tastemakers and fashion curators of our time. Novack’s film draws fascinating, heretofore unexplored connections between the elegance of André’s beloved grandmother and the Black Church of his youth and his later iconic, barrier-breaking work at publications such as Women’s Wear Daily, W and Vogue. Weaving together a wealth of archival footage from the most glamorous moments in fashion history with André’s poignant reflections on his life and career as well as commentary from fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, The Gospel According to André is a cinematic monument to one of the most unique figures of 20th-century American culture.

The Times of Bill

Mark Bozek began work on this invigorating film about the legendary street photographer Bill Cunningham on the day of his death in 2016 at the age of 87. Bozek worked with precious material, including a lengthy 1994 interview with Cunningham, which was filmed after he received a Media Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as well as his earliest unseen pre-New York Times photographs. In his customarily cheerful and plainspoken manner, Cunningham takes us through his Irish Catholic upbringing in Boston, his stint in the army, his move to New York in 1948 (which was controversial for his strait-laced family), his days as a milliner, his close friendships with Nona Park and Sophie Shonnard of Chez Ninon, his beginnings as a photographer and his liberated and wholly democratic view of fashion. The Times of Bill is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker, whose own legacy in fashion adds a subtle colour to this moving tribute.


Anandhi Gopinath is an assistant editor of Options at The Edge Malaysia.