I’m calling for a moratorium on a few things: Marvel movies, Jennifer Lopez and fashion documentaries.
hile it might not be obvious to those who don’t frequent independent cinemas, there have been more than a few fashion docs of late: The September Issue, Diana Vreeland, and Dior & I are some of the ones who have made it to these shores, but they are only a drop on the ocean. All are celebrations, self-congratulatory advertisements and none of them explore the narcissism and superficiality that drives this fierce desire to... wear nice clothes.
ris is the latest, a documentary on the ninety-four-year-old fashion designer who branches out into art and interior design. She stands apart from most in that she believes what you wear should be fun. She’s the embodiment of this mantra: a cobbled together look of clashing colours taken from Asian, Western and African fashion. High street or bargain bin: there’s no discrimination and little pretension with Iris. "Big and bold and lots of pizazz," is how she likes it.
ike a little girl, she delights in dressing up, and necklaces and bracelets are haphazardly thrown on top of each other. We follow Iris clinking and clanking (those oversized accessories do make a racket) around backstreet shops, picking out eye-watering garments, (impressively) haggling with hawkers, going home and trying it all on. Wash, rinse, repeat. To break things up we’re treated to a circle of her apartment, which, laden with bizarre toys, looks how The Mad Hatter would imagine Santa’s Grotto.
e’re supposed to ignore that Iris looks a bit ridiculous, and we’re supposed to ignore the patronising tone of the smiling television presenters that interview her: "You’re still with it," one says of husband Carl, whom Iris has dressed up in, shall we say, a daring air of pants.
he camera of late Gimme Shelter director Albert Maylses trots behind Iris in awe of her, his camera saying ‘wow, cooooool’ at everything Iris wears/says/points at. But there’s zero insight into her inspiration or what’s behind this Peter Pan personality. When she says that getting ready for the party is more interesting that being at the party, it should have been a cue for Maylses to dig deeper: Why is that, Iris?
ut no. Because then the documentary would have to be about something.