With Prêt-à-Porter, Robert Altman filmed a self-conscious, grotesque portrait of the fashion industry in an inaccurate, messy, but rather enjoyable manner.
In the first half of the movie, fashion is a playground for men. Olivier de la Fontaine (Jean-Pierre Cassel) runs the Chambre de la Mode. Designer Simone Lowenthal’s son (Rupert Everett) licenses the family brand to a Texan boot maker behind his mother back. Photographer Milo O’Brannigan (Stephen Rea) ascertains his power by blackmailing the holy trinity of fashion editors (ELLE, Vogue, Harper’s).
Women, however, quickly regain control. De la Fontaine dies and his statuesque wife Isabella (Sophia Loren) becomes the focal point of every front row. The editors put their publishing competition aside and team up against the golden boy of photography. Lowenthal shocks the industry by sending naked women down her runway.
(heads up for nudity under the cut)