Catwalk (1995) provided an up-close look into the 90s fashion scene. Here's what I learned after watching it.
The 90s were such an iconic moment in time for fashion. Being a 90s baby, I was always fascinated with the culture surrounding the supermodels of the 1990s and the major fashion houses that dominated the decade.
If you've ever browsed Pinterest for a long enough period of time, you'll start to notice the lasting impact of 90s runway shows and the top models that walked them. The era of the supermodel had a powerful yet short-lived rise to popularity that got me thinking - what was it about the 90s that fueled the obsession with supermodels - and does the supermodel still exist today?
I had heard about a documentary called Catwalk a long while back and have been meaning to sit down and watch it. I recently did a post all about 90s supermodel hair and it got me thinking about this decade of total icons. I remembered the documentary and decided to sit down and watch it.
WOW! It was so cool. Keep reading to see what I learned.
Catwalk is a documentary shot in 1992 of the Spring fashion show season, covering Milan, Paris, and New York fashion weeks. It mainly follows model Christy Turlington and her model friends as they work in many of the fashion shows and photoshoots required of them for the season. It also features many heads of fashion houses including Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, Azzedine Alaïa, Isaac Mizrahi, and others. It also highlights legendary photographers like Arthur Elgort and magazine editors like Anna Wintour.
The documentary also interviews several people and their thoughts about the emergence of supermodels and popularity of fashion in the 90s. It also asks the models themselves about what it is like being in the industry.
Catwalk mainly follows Christy Turlington, an American model and her international model friends/peers. These women were very successful during their careers, with Linda Evangelista famously saying she doesn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.
In the 90s, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista were dubbed "The Trinity" until Claudia Schiffer (who is sometimes interchanged with Tatjana Patitz) and Cindy Crawford became known as "The Big 5" supermodels. They were walking all the major designer shows and supposedly earning the highest rates. Kate Moss eventually entered the scene and changed "The Big 5" to "The Big 6".
Although the term 'supermodel' has been used since 1891, the 1990s branded a new type of supermodel that involved intense media coverage and celebrity. Magazines started to use group photoshoots and ad campaigns to combine the most popular and powerful supermodels of the time, which only increased their popularity. Their fame enabled them to demand higher rates and compete with the prestige of movie stars.
Catwalk covers the models but it also features some iconic designers of the day as well as fashion editors, photographers, artists, journalists, and more. It shows an intimate behind-the-scenes display of 90s runway shows which were large productions that required a lot of work and collaboration.
Catwalk (1995) was such a cool time machine into the 90s! I've always been fascinated with 90s fashion and 90s supermodels so it felt like this documentary was made for me!
It's shot in black and white with some color scenes so it's really cool and cinematic. The music is very 90s (Alexa, play "There She Goes") and it's so funny to see how different the world was in the 1990s.
One thing that really struck me about the documentary is the lack of social media/phones! There are a few scenes in which Christy pulls out a big "cell phone" to talk to different people (including her new boyfriend Christian Slater). Every interaction the models had with each other and the designers seemed sweet, heartfelt, and genuine. For some reason, I think everyone assumes that supermodels of this time were super catty and competitive (which I'm sure a lot of them were) but there seems to be some real friendships formed between a lot of these iconic women.
For example, it seems as though Christy and Naomi are super close as well as Kate and Carla. No one is sitting around watching videos on their phones - everyone is more in the moment and focused on everything that is going on. They are genuinely interested in what the other has to say and it seems they're real friends, not just coworkers.
Another thing is that the designers of the time really had an artistic and creative vision for each of their shows, and that they seem to have wonderful relationships (for the most part) with the models they work with. It's almost as if the models really were their muses and the vehicles they used to showcase their crafts.
Runway shows at the time were a lot less serious - and there was always a lot of twirling! This was kind of surprising to me, but it really was as if each supermodel was performing an entrancing dance number on the stage. Each model had their own flair and did something a little different at each show. These days, it's all about the clothes and the less the models bring attention to themselves, the better!
Every show really had a lot of collaboration and art. For example, John Galliano's show was deeply inspired by Anna Karenina and 18th century women. His show was featured in the documentary, and he even coached Kate and Christy on how to go down the aisle looking frightened and hurried. Of course, modern designers also draw inspiration from history, but the current shows seem to be less of an art display and more about selling clothing.
This documentary also explores the concept of supermodels and our society putting beautiful people on a pedestal. It shows some moments where modeling doesn't seem so glamorous, when Christy says she has to spend a lot of time away from her home and doesn't really have time to be in a relationship or stay in one place.
The rise and fall of the 90s supermodel is such an interesting topic that wasn't necessarily covered in this documentary. It looks at the popularity and obsession with supermodels, but obviously doesn't discuss the years that would ultimately follow.
Here are some people featured in Catwalk that you may or may not recognize:
André Leon Talley
Fan of Christy
Jean Paul Gaultier
There She Goes
I absolutely recommend Catwalk to anyone interested in the 90s, 90s fashion, 90s supermodels, or both! It didn't get rave critical reviews or anything, but it's such a quick watch and really makes you feel like you are getting an inside look into the lives of some pretty glamorous people.
If you're at all interested in the fashion industry, I would think this would be a great thing for you to watch to get a glimpse into an iconic moment in fashion history. It's also just really cool because there are a lot of different influential people littered throughout the documentary, so it's fun to see that too!
I wish we had more documentaries like this because it gives us access to a pretty exclusive world! Let me know which fashion documentary I should watch next!
As of right now, you can watch the full documentary on YouTube! Super nice, right? Here's where I watched it:
Have you guys seen Catwalk? What is your favorite fashion documentary?