Heighten Your Knowledge of Fashion With These 5 TV Shows

Fashion front-row, secured.
Photo: Atsushi Nishijima

Fashion and TV shows often go hand in hand. You have the TV characters’ wardrobe reflecting the show’s era or in tune with their character development, while the audience themselves often emulate the styles shown on TV: just like Friends to Euphoria’s wardrobe. But fashion-themed TV shows? It’s a desert out there. Now that we’re done catching up with reality shows, Next in Fashion Season 2, and rewatched all 19 seasons of Project Runway as we recover from a fashion TV show withdrawal, these are what we’re (re)watching next. 

Halston (2021)

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Based on the biography Simply Halston: The Untold Story by Steven Gaines, the Netflix show features the rise and fall of Roy Halston. Halston had a meteoric rise after Jackie Kennedy donned the distinctive pillbox hat created by Halston during the 1961 Inauguration Day. Starring Ewan McGregor, the Ryan Murphy-produced miniseries is set in the swinging 60s, a decade where fashion was non-conforming, highly influenced by Hollywood’s glitz and the (in)famous Studio 54.

Through the eyes of Halston, we get a peek into Halston’s inner circle. The glamorous cadre included Liza Minelli, Eleanor Lambert, Elsa Peretti, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, and many more. Nonetheless, he struggled to keep up with the business side of fashion and eventually came to a downfall. The show has mixed reviews, questioning the accuracy of these events. Despite that, it’s a binge-worthy show that got us pondering on the million-dollar question: creativity vs commercial.

Made in Italy (2019) 

Made in Italy is the epitome of good fashion, but how and why? The series follows fictional character Irene Mastrangelo (Greta Ferro) as she navigates through her life as a journalist at a fashion magazine, Appeal. Set in 1965 Milan, we see the boom of Italian fashion in the 70s, from haute couture to prêt-à-porter via Mastrangelo’s eye. Renowned designers such as Giorgio Armani (Raoul Bova), Gianni Versace (Achille Marciano), Miuccia Prada (Caterina Carpio), and more were credited. As the TV show walks us through a real-life fashion journey, we witness how Milan became a renowned fashion capital.

The Bold Type (2017) 

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Inspired by the story of former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanne Cole, the series revolves around a trio of young women. Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy), work for Scarlet, a fictional women’s magazine. Technically, The Bold Type is not fashion-focused but inclined towards how these women balance their professional and private lives.

Segue away from notorious potrayal of fashion as toxic, the series has a fresh take on female camaraderie in workplace. Female solidarity helped them find their respective voices in the industry and also, in New York City. Our favourite scene? The trio hiding in the fashion stock room, dressing up and drinking champagne. 

The Collection (2016) 

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Throwback to a time when designers strived to put Paris back on the fashion map postwar. The Collection centres around a fictional fashion house, Paul Sabine. With Paul (Richard Coyle) as the face and his brother Calude (Tom Riley) as the creative mind, expect plenty of tangled family drama. Soapy plot aside, it’s backed up loosely by fashion facts and real-life fashion events. Since the series is set in the 1947, it’s only reasonable to pay a tribute to Dior’s iconic 1947 collection that defined the decade, or else known as the “New Look”. Instead of the exact dress or a replica, costume designer Chattoune recreated about 40 costumes that represented the decade perfectly. 

Mr. Selfridge (2013) 

We have the POVs of fashion designers, fashion writers—obviously we can’t forget the department stores. Ultimately, this is where fashion reaches the consumers, whether fashion conscious or not. Mr. Selfridge is a small-screen adaptation of Lindy Woodhead’s book, Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge. The series gets a biopic treatment centred around Harry Gordon Selfridge. If the name rings a bell, that’s because he founded Selfridges & Co., a shopping mecca built in the 1908. You don’t have to be familiar with retail to watch the lighthearted series. It’s a “sip your cuppa and eat crumpets” fashion version of Downtown Abbey, minus the unforeseen sudden deaths.