Fashion on Film: Movie Review, World’s Greatest Festivals: The Ultimate Guide to New York Fashion Week

The title World’s Greatest Festivals: The Ultimate Guide to New York Fashion Week is an overblown summary of what this fashion documentary is trying to be. It’s premise is two-fold: bring a slice of New York Fashion Week to the hoi polloi who couldn’t possibly get into the tents, and show that the celebrity-filled, party-going, paparazzi-posing scene surrounding fashion week is as crazy and rarified as one would expect.

But to call World’s Greatest Festivals a documentary is a stretch. The film bears more resemblance to a “behind-the-scenes” Entertainment Tonight segment, although it lacks even the familiar format of fast-paced cutting and high-energy music that make such pieces palatable. In this case, the segments are stitched together haphazardly with fashionista and daughter of Joan Lunden, Jamie Krauss, serving as the Leeza Gibbons-esque correspondent throughout.

The filmmakers seem to have forgotten that the medium is inherently visual. So, while we hear a lot of stories about how chaotic and frenzied fashion week can be, the corresponding b-roll is a complete disconnect. Backstage, the designers and their crew seem to have everything under control and things look incredibly tame. Fashion’s elite wait for the shows in their seats in an orderly fashion. Even the paparazzi are behaving, despite hearing how likely they are to get into fistfights. The film is visually static with people standing around backstage, waiting to get in, posing for pictures or seated near the catwalk.

We would guess that part of the reason that the concept of the film didn’t translate into a compelling piece is because of poor planning. Over and over again, Krauss informs us that the production crew doesn’t have an invitation to this show or that. So when they do get inside, they seem to be flying around by the seat of their pants trying to capture whatever they can. Sometimes, this approach in documentary filmmaking can lead to spectacular immediacy. In this case, the filmmaking is incredibly sloppy. 

The interviews feel cursory and add little to the film. Krauss and her crew ambush uncomfortable designers, celebrities and fashionistas who stammer their answers, look annoyed at being accosted (move over Anna Wintour; Sigourney Weaver’s in the house), deflect questioning adroitly (Anna Wintour), or reply with the same pat answers we’ve heard a thousand times like “fashion is fun”.

Because the film is both lackluster and incoherent, it tries to rely on Krauss’ personality to pull it along and pull it together. While her enthusiasm for the subject is admirable, we wonder if even the star power of her mother could pull off such a herculean feat. It should be noted that this writer worked with Joan Lunden, who was being interviewed on live television for two hours about seasonal allergies. The woman was a phenomenon who could make even a subject as boring as deciduous trees seem interesting. Unfortunately, her daughter could not do the same for New York Fashion Week. It’s, of course, regrettable that a daughter is compared to a mother with such big shoes to fill; however, we imagine a bit of nepotism was involved in getting this documentary off the ground in the first place.

In the end, we can’t think of an audience to whom we would recommend World’s Greatest Festivals. If you are a fashion fan, the film replays all too familiar territory. If you are a regular Joe who wants to learn about fashion week, it fails to either bring a compelling or incisive look at the inner workings of New York Fashion Week or portray much sense of fashion’s inherent entertainment value. It’s ironic that a film that sets out to show New York Fashion Week as one of the world’s greatest festivals actually manages to suck all of the life out of it.

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