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Best of 2023: Documentaries, series and films that shaped fashion trends

By Susan Zijp


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Donyale Luna for „Twen“, 1966. Credits: Charlotte March, Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Sammlung Falckenberg

Just before the end of the year, FashionUnited traditionally takes a look back at the films, documentaries and series that were released in the last twelve month. What has emerged for 2023? 2023 was the year of fashion trends that were inspired by the silver screen or, vice versa, inspired audiovisual art. Here is an overview of the series and films of 2023 that have influenced the fashion world.

Film: Barbie

From the silver screen to retail stores and fashion on the streets: Greta Gerwig's modern interpretation of the “Barbie” movie inspired a storm of pink fashion. Retailers skilfully capitalised on this. Fans of the colour pink who wear it every day anyway, became all the rage overnight. The Barbiecore trend in particular went viral on social media. Outfits inspired by the Barbie film were viewed millions of times on TikTok under the hashtag #barbiecore.

Film: Hardcore Never Dies

The extremely popular film "Hardcore Never Dies", which follows the lives (and fashion) of people in the gabber culture, was the icing on the cake for fans of Dutch fashion. Film scholar Rudi de Boer shared with Hart van Nederland "The gabber culture is one of the few subcultures that has never completely disappeared in the Netherlands". Take the success of the new 'Paradice' collection. This week, the Rotterdam streetwear brand released ten items of clothing - from sports pants to fanny packs - inspired by the subculture..

Film: The Little Mermaid

The fashion industry has drawn much inspiration from the underwater world this year. In 2023, the film “The Little Mermaid”, Disney's interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's 1879 fairy tale, further intensified this fascination. In the summer of 2023, the film caused increased interest in the “mermaid” trend, with lavender sequins, shell necklaces and tight-fitting dresses inspired by the idea that we will one day wear them in the underwater world.

Film: Priscilla

A-line skirts, pastel-coloured cardigans, miniskirts, Chanel, Valentino - the fashion of the 1960s can be seen on the streets today. The biopic “Priscilla” takes viewers on a journey through time as it depicts the life of Priscilla Presley, ex-wife of late American rock legend Elvis. It follows her from the day she met him to the day she left him. Much fashion history also comes into play, as Priscilla changed her style from that of a modest 14-year-old to the wife of a rock'n'roll superstar.

Renaissance: A film by Beyoncé

2023 was the year of Beyoncé. The US singer toured the world to promote her album “Renaissance” and showed herself in the creations of various major fashion labels - from Daily Paper to Iris van Herpen. Of course, this had to be captured, so Beyoncé made a film about it. Beyoncé fans donned their most “Renaissance” inspired outfits for the tour: Many items of clothing referred to the content of the album and its cover, i.e. silver clothing, fringes, cowboy boots and of course: disco fashion. Beyoncé's concert film “Renaissance” is fashion entertainment at its best.

Documentary series: Donyale Luna: Supermodel

An impressive story brought to life this year by HBO Max was the life of supermodel and actress Donyale Luna. The documentary consists of four parts, each named after the places where the muse of art and fashion lovers lived: Detroit, New York, London and Rome. One highlight is when she appeared as a sketch on the cover of the American Harper's Bazaar in 1965. This was soon followed by the British Vogue. What is inspiring is how Luna did not let the excessive racism she experienced as a black woman stop her. Luna's story is a commitment to scurrility. When the model was asked in an interview where she came from, she replied: “I come from the moon”.

Luna died far too early: at the age of 33 from a “cardiac arrest”, a cause of death that the documentary speculates about openly. Director Nailah Jefferson has created a portrait of the quirky Luna with the help of friends, family members and experts from the worlds of fashion and film.

Documentary series: The Supermodels

Fancy a big dose of fashion from the 1980s and 1990s? The four-part mini-series “The Supermodels” on Apple+ follows the lives of top models Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. The friends began their careers in the 1980s and became world-famous in the 1990s. The models graced the catwalks of major fashion houses - from Marc Jacobs to Versace - and even appeared in George Michael's music video “Freedom”.

Film: Vivienne Westwood: God Save The Queen

The documentary “Vivienne Westwood: God Save The Queen” describes the British designer as the “mother of punk”. Her fashion inspired by punk subculture - with unique, self-made clothes and many accessories - can still be seen on the streets today. Westwood is considered to have anchored punk fashion in the mainstream. In December 2022, the fashion world said goodbye to Vivienne Westwood. Two months later, in February, the documentary about her extraordinary career was released thanks to author Hannah Summer. The documentary can be seen on Apple+ Prime.

Documentary: Mart Visser

In the documentary about fashion designer Mart Visser, one can learn about the rise of the Dutch fashion designer in the 1990s and gain an insight into the life of an extraordinarily creative mind. For instance, he effortlessly solved the problem of people who were disappointed not to be able to sit in the front row at his show. He also coped well with setbacks, as the documentary shows. One example of this is the bankruptcy of department stores V&D, with which Visser worked. The documentary emphasises his talent, ingenuity and discipline .

Documentary series: Against All Odds - the success story of Daily Paper

Ten years of Daily Paper. Now “the inspiring story behind the clothing brand” can also be followed in this documentary. The entrepreneurs started small and went out into the world from Osdorp in the Netherlands. In the four-part documentary series, viewers learn more about the faces behind the extremely successful Dutch brand.

Film: Strange Way of Life

Fashion house Saint Laurent released its own film this year titled “Strange Way of Life” by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. The film is set in the desert and is a dramatic film full of fashionable moments that tackles themes such as friendship, family and love. The fashion in the film is inspired by cowboys.

Documentary: Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World

The hip-hop music genre continues to be a great source of inspiration for contemporary fashion. From sneakers and cargo pants to baggy jeans - music fans have triggered these trends. But hip-hop is more than that. Viewers can understand the historical context in “Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World”. In addition to the fashion that characterised the era, the documentary also looks at the political atmosphere. Like many initiatives launched by people themselves, hip hop was a political movement. The documentary, which also features US stars Eminem and Ice T, shows how the culture merged with the political atmosphere in America and therefore the whole world.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.nl. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

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