‘Absolutely Fashion:’ The New Role of the Fashion Documentary

Sherah Ndjongo, Contributing Writer

Fashion has always been at the forefront of everything. Its presence can be found in the most iconic moments in history, and its influence reigns over virtually every creative medium. This is why it’s no surprise that prominent fashion designers, models and bloggers have time and time again managed to enter the realm of celebrity, capturing the attention and likes of hundreds of thousands of followers, especially in this digital age.

Access to the background players to fashion, like the stylists, trend forecasters and editors, are in demand by the public more than eve Due to the desire to gain more insight into the work of these often overlooked influencers, a new art form has risen in popularity: the fashion documentary.

British Vogue is known for many things: timelessness, elegance, creativity. For the first time in history, British Vogue gave permission to a film crew led by documentary maker Richard Macer to film the everyday happenings around the magazine’s office for nine months.

This exclusive sneak peek of this infamous publication’s closeted headquarters titled “Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue,” is mostly a tale of the magazine staff, notably Alexandra Shulman, the editor-in-chief, and creative director Jaime Perlman. This documentary isn’t meant to shock viewers with the obvious fact that everything isn’t what meets the eye, or that Hollywood’s elite and New York socialites don’t always linger around their office. Rather, it’s to put on display the hectic, fast-paced and sometimes disappointing world of magazine editors that lack more glitz and glamor than expected. This is an important aspect of the documentary because it humanizes those at the top of the fashion hierarchy in a way that paints the industry as more inviting, a word that is rarely used to describe this world.

Following the premiere of “Absolutely Fashion” on BBC2, comparisons to Alexa Chung’s six-part series “The Future of Fashion” started rolling in. While both films serve to explore sides of the fashion industry that are often behind closed doors, “The Future of Fashion” is meant to educate, interviewing those who have made great contributions to their field. For example, Christopher Kane, creative director of his eponymous label, gives viewers valuable insights about the grit it takes to make it in this industry, while other episodes touched on subjects ranging from entrepreneurship to landing internships and attending fashion school. The targeted viewer for this docuseries is likely to be the aspiring fashion influencer or anyone who wants to examine the industry from an educational standpoint, as opposed to “Absolutely Fashion,” which appears to reel in those who are curious about and entertained by the industry itself.

Both “Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue” and “The Future of Fashion” allow viewers to connect with an industry that appears to purposefully distance itself from anyone who hasn’t entered it yet. Fashion is known for having such a massive impact on a wide variety of places, people and things that it’s unfortunate how its few and short-lived attempts to be more inclusive have deepened the divide between its major players and those who admire their work. This growing trend of creating fashion documentaries is nothing less than positive because they’ll further continue to bring viewers closer to those on the other side, allowing both to gain a mutual understanding of the other.

Email Sherah Ndongo at [email protected].