Trio of Fashion Docs Put Spotlight on International Designers

ONE TIME USE -Looks-from-Pierre-Cardin-from-1968-Salvatore-Ferragamo-with-a-pair-of-18K-gold-sandals-in-1956.-Split-H-2020-1598397304
COURTESY OF UTOPIA; COURTESY OF FRENSEY FILM COMPANY/MEMO FILMS

From left: Looks from Pierre Cardin from 1968; Salvatore Ferragamo with a pair of 18K gold sandals in 1956.

Pierre Cardin, Salvatore Ferragamo and Martin Margiela take center stage in new films from P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, Reiner Holzemer, and Luca Guadagnino.

Why does the fashion workroom provide such rich fodder for cinematic storytellers? "Fashion touches everyone, but we still look at an atelier as a place that’s both glamorous and a bit mysterious. It’s really fun to pull back that curtain," says P. David Ebersole, who, with Todd Hughes, co-directed House of Cardin. It chronicles the life of Italian designer Pierre Cardin, now 98, known for dressing everyone from The Beatles to Dionne Warwick and for his pioneering push to license his name.

Out theatrically Aug. 28, House of Cardin is among a trio of new fashion docs. Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, directed by Reiner Holzemer and centering on the camera-averse Belgian designer, is just out from Oscilloscope, while Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, about Italian legend Salvatore Ferragamo, will premiere Sept. 6 at the Venice Film Festival.

Dreams' director is Call Me by Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino, who previously helmed short films for the label. He recruited journalist Dana Thomas (author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes) to write the script for the doc, which highlights Ferragamo’s early career in Hollywood, when he crafted shoes for Gloria Swanson and other silent-film icons.

"The house provided so much incredible material from its archives — things I didn’t even know existed, though I’ve been covering Ferragamo for 25 years. But they never tried to direct what I or Luca was doing," says Thomas. "Since [Salvatore’s] been gone for 60 years, it’s not about the house today. It’s about his journey." Michael Stuhlbarg narrates and Martin Scorsese appears, dis- cussing the silent era and the Italian immigrant experience.

The Ferragamo and Cardin docs were in a rush to capture subjects: Thomas says Guadagnino was able to film Wanda Miletti, Ferragamo’s widow, before she died in 2018, while Hughes and Ebersole were instantly inspired when they met Cardin, then 95, in Paris in 2017. "We ended up following him for a year," says Hughes. "The movie really gave him life, and that made us happy and made us work even harder."

This story first appeared in the Aug. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.