By Eric Wilson
Jul 20, 2018 @ 10:00 am
Mitchell Gerber/Getty Images

Among the latest fashion and beauty documentaries coming out this summer, there are two that I think will resonate well beyond their respective industries, and for different reasons.

The first is McQueen, which focuses on the life of the talented and tormented designer Alexander McQueen, has already impressed critics for the insightful storytelling of its directors, Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedqui, who created the movie without immediate access to the late designer’s intimates. And they were perhaps better off, being able to tell his tragic story, which ended with his suicide in 2010, more objectively.

VIDEO: Watch the McQueen Trailer Here

The second is Larger Than Life, The Kevyn Aucoin Story, which is about the gifted makeup artist who was enormously powerful in the 1990s, until his death in 2002, caused by complications from a rare medical condition and his addiction to painkillers. Tiffany Bartok, the director, also recounts his history without flinching from the darker moments, but includes the participation of many of his close friends, his boyfriends, and his subjects. Everyone is there—Cher, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, and on and on. (Larger Than Life, The Kevyn Aucoin Story opens today at Laemmle Monica Film Center in LA and is available digitally and on-demand beginning July 31.)

VIDEO: Watch a Clip from the Larger Than Life, The Kevyn Aucoin Story Here

 

While McQueen and Aucoin were contemporaries, and there are many parallels in lives that were shaped by the pressures of fashion and creativity, the films also reveal differences that reflect how much smaller and more insular the business was at the time. McQueen was London and Aucoin very much New York City. Both were demanding and sometimes difficult, but at times displayed a degree of gentleness that could be surprising. What you will not miss in either film is the subject’s absolute pursuit of perfectionism without regard for the costs—in Aucoin’s case, he could shut himself away for hours with a subject, while a cast of photographers, hairstylists, and assistants were left waiting.

There’s a funny moment, seen here in an exclusive clip, that recounts Aucoin plucking models’ eyebrows before an Isaac Mizrahi fashion show to create a look inspired by Carole Lombard. Both Moss and Crawford were left with no eyebrows at all after the show—“I looked like a girl on the back of a milk carton, who they had reconstructed her face and they never put the eyebrows back on,” Crawford says.

As it would turn out, the look was a big hit, and Crawford started getting even more work. “Everyone started tweezing their eyebrows,” Mizrahi says in the film. “This was everything.”