Netflix's 11 Best Art and Fashion Movies

Avoid your family with a semi-cultured binge this holiday season.

by Tom Philip
Nov 22 2018, 3:45pm

What is "art"? I bring up that age-old question not just to facilitate a meaningful discussion around the arbitrary value we assign to the efforts and taste of others, but also because the category of "fashion and art movies" is a somewhat nebulous concept (is the category of “fashion movie” strictly limited to movies about fashion, or can any movie with impeccable costume design—think Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette—crack the list?). In any case, here are the best films streaming on Netflix right now that are in one way or another preoccupied with creativity, aesthetics, and fancy clothes.


House of Z (2017)

The easiest inclusion on this entire list is Sandy Chronopoulos's documentary about Zac Posen, the fashion world wunderkind who got in over his head fronting one of the world's biggest brands. Diddy and Naomi Campbell, among others, contribute to the conversation alongside plenty of shots of absolutely insane dresses.


Marie Antoinette (2006)

Say what you will about Sofia Coppola, but the woman knows her way around elegant set design and costumes that not only look great but serve the characters they surround. Like her latest triumph The Beguiled, Marie Antoinette uses its clothing and setting not just to impress you but also to better emphasize its themes of class, authority, and the difficult status held by women, no matter how much power they hold on paper.


Bowie: The Man Who Changed The World (2016)

David Bowie spent his entire life toeing the line between making art and becoming it himself, and left behind a back catalog of fucking great music, and a generation of people he inspired to think differently about the act of creating. Bowie is a must-watch for both lifelong fans and people who have only heard "Space Oddity" during the opening montage of a sci-fi movie.


Shirkers (2018)

A fascinating true story that turns the concept of ownership rights over a small indie movie into a taut crime thriller. It's one of the best movies you might have missed this year.


The Devil's Candy (2015)

The Loved Ones director Sean Byrne in his sophomore filmmaking effort makes a fast, fun horror movie about a struggling artist who suddenly finds himself increasingly creative, increasingly successful, and increasingly drawn to some fucked-up imagery. Like the death metal music the main character and his daughter love so deeply, this won't be for everyone, but it's got a lot more to say than just "going to hell seems bad."


Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)

The first movie, to be clear, not the abomination more commonly known as Sex and the City 2. Sure, the first movie isn't perfect either (Jezebel's Dodai Stewart memorably wrote that the film "made me want to cut myself"), but a lot of narrative problems and criminal misuse of Jennifer Hudson can be forgiven in exchange for Carrie's fabulous wedding hat.


Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

Sometimes called the "Andy Warhol of our time," Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei is known for being boldly critical of the Chinese government, which led to his 2011 arrest. Never Sorry explores his civil activism as well as his body of work, which includes sculpture, installation, architecture and more.


Atonement (2007)

Okay, to be technically accurate, this is more of a war drama than a fashion film per se, but the devotion to the gloomily romantic English visuals of this Ian McEwan novel adaptation alone qualify it for a place on this list. Three words: green dress scene.


The True Cost (2015)

This chilling documentary about the sweatshop workers around the world who toil in the name of "fast fashion" should be required viewing for anyone interested in the globalization of the fashion industry (the inspiration for the movie came from the Rana Plaza factory collapsein Dhaka, Bangladesh.)


Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (2017)

Before Manolo Blahnik was a household name (at least in households with Vogue subscriptions), he was a young boy in Spain's Canary Islands, fashioning shoes for lizards out of foil candy wrappers. Directed by fashion editor Michael Roberts, this documentary follows Blahnik's evolution into one of the most influential designers of all time. (Bonus: Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley cameos!)


How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days (2003)

This Kate Hudson/Matthew McConnaughey romantic comedy nails the early-2000's fashion magazine mise-en-scene as well as anything did until The Devil Wears Prada came out in 2006. The film's protagonists are tasked with carrying out stunt journalism for rivaling women's and men's magazines, a conceit that will make you long for the days when print journalism could pay for you to find a boyfriend (and afford a wardrobe of Burberry coats for your dog.) Plus, Kathryn Hahn's performance in this film is nothing short of art.