fashion's five best right hand men

Dior and I showcased Raf's relationship with his 'right hand' Pieter Mulier, so we're celebrating the people behind the scenes who make the magic happen.

by Colin Crummy
27 March 2015, 11:28am

This week sees the release of Dior and I, a behind the scenes look at Raf Simons' first eight weeks at the iconic Parisian fashion house. Frederic Tcheng's film is notable for how it shows Simons' right hand man, Pieter Mulier, as lubricant between the Belgian designer, the business brains at Dior and the all-important seamstresses in the attic. So, in honor of those who keep the wheels turning, here are five of the best fashion wingmen, and one really great wing woman, as depicted in cinema:

Pieter Mulier from Dior and I
Raf Simons calls Pieter Mulier his 'right hand' and boy, does the right hand do some work in this behind-the-scenes documentary about the eight weeks to the designer's first haute couture collection at Dior. Mulier flirts with the seamstresses in the atelier and sends them flowers. 'It's a pity he's gay, it's a waste,' cries Florence Chehet, the atelier tailleur, noting the bouquet addressed to her is signed from Simons but written by Mulier. Downstairs in Dior, Mulier keeps Simons in Coke Zeroes and cigarettes, and thinks how to best translate the words 'the dresses aren't ready yet'. It's difficult. He has a little cry at the end, unsurprisingly.

Giancarlo Giammetti from Valentino: The Last Emperor
Frederic Tcheng has a knack for getting between designers and their right hand men, as he proved in the irresistible Valentino: The Last Emperor in 2008. It was Valentino Garavani's long-term partner, lover and employee Giancarlo Giammatti that proved an equal star in this documentary about the frothy glamour of the Italian icon's world. Giammatti showed an unwaveringly high tolerance to excess, ego and pugs in the 45 years he's worked at the house. He's also the guy brave enough to tell Valentino to go easy on the bronzer.

Grace Coddington from The September Issue
We came for Anna, but left with the feels for Grace. That's the consensus on The September Issue, R.J. Cutler's 2011 behind the scenes documentary at American Vogue. Flamed hair Grace Coddington was the creative soul to Anna Wintour's business head at the magazine, moved to tears when her extraordinary stories were killed or cut. "It's been whittled down and I'm furious," she announced to camera about her September issue fashion story, her lunchtime salad box untouched at her desk. Still, Coddington proved herself as canny as her editor in getting what she wants, and she was the only person in The September Issue not to visibly shake in Wintour's presence.

John Kurdewan from Bill Cunningham New York
Street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham may be a lone wolf, stalking the streets of Manhattan for his style stories in the New York Times, but he had got one good guy on his side in the 2011 documentary about his life. John Kurdewan, a production artist at the newspaper was the guy who has to marshal then 80-plus Cunningham's vision unto a layout. It's a task he undertakes with good grace, casually asking the photographer of his deadline while Cunningham scans in his film, announcing a deadline of today. Kurdewan even plays messenger boy, picking up a freshly developed roll. What a gent.

Pierre Berge from Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent's life partner featured in two 2014 dramatisations of the French designer's life. One was warm and sympathetic, the other directed by Bertrand Bonello, caused Berge to tweet: "I hold the moral rights over YSL's life…a trial on the cards?" so harsh was the interpretation of Berge's role in his lover's career. Even in Jalil Lespert's affectionate portrayal, the fictitious Berge recognizes his public image as "the pimp who's found his all-star hooker". Perhaps best to leave the last word to YSL, who said of his lifelong wingman: "His strength meant I could rest on him when I was out of breath."

Dior and I is in cinemas Friday, March 27  


Text Colin Crummy

Raf Simons
dior i
frédéric tcheng
dior and i
pieter mulier