Saturday, September 26, 2009


Directed by R. J. Cutler

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. September 15, 2009, 4:35PM

Having worked for a high-end, designer retail establishment for over twenty years, I was very interested in finding out what it takes to put together the "bible" of the fashion industry, Vogue magazine and to discover more about the magazine's celebrated Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour.

This documentary, "The September Issue", is on the making of Vogue's 2007 fall issue, which at this time still stands as the biggest issue to date with 840 pages. We follow the editors as they discuss and agonize over what will actually go in to the magazine. They decide on what will be the current trends of the season based on what was seen on the runways. From that they create the photo shoots and which clothes will be featured in them. Then they will finally present their ideas to Ms Wintour who will either accept or most likely advise them to rethink and come up with a fresher concept.

We meet some of the key players of the magazine; the fabulously flamboyant, Andre Leon Talley who is Editor-at-Large. He lives, breathes and is inspired by all things "fashion" which is a valuable asset to Vogue.

Grace Coddington, a former model and the Creative Director of American Vogue for over twenty years who actually joined the magazine at the same time as Ms Wintour. She is the true visionary of the magazine and she makes what she does appear effortless.

As Editor-in-Chief, Ms Wintour is responsible for taking many different ideas from many different sources and paring it down to become the definitive answer on what fashionable women should be wearing each season. On the surface, it can appear to be silly and unimportant but I think it is comforting to some women to have someone guide you through the endless choices that are out there to help create a look of the moment.

There is not one part of the magazine that is not approved of by Ms Wintour before it will make it onto the pages of Vogue. We see quite frequently that Ms Wintour and Ms Coddington do not see eye to eye on creative matters. Although Ms Coddington is a very important force to the magazine and it appears that there is some sort of compromise, the reality is that Ms Wintour has the final word.

It has been well noted that Ms Wintour was the basis of the character in the book and the film, "The Devil Wears Prada" and after seeing her in action in this film, it is even more obvious. She is not an overtly warm individual mainly because I think work consumes so much of her time and she has to remain focused on the job at hand. It may not occur to her to ask how some one's day is going because she is preoccupied with answering many questions and making even more decisions. Now I personally don't think this is the best approach but I guess it works for her.

To be fair, she is not a total ice queen. We do see moments, although brief, throughout the film that shows that she does have a beating heart in her body. Most especially away from the office. We catch Ms Wintour looking lovingly but slightly disappointed at her daughter, Katherine while she discusses how she could never be involved in the fashion business.

I found the film to be fascinating. I really didn't realize how much was involved in putting together the magazine. We are given unprecedented access to all areas in the creation of an issue of Vogue. From the beautiful fashion shows and the after parties, big name designers previewing their latest work who nervously look for Ms Wintour's approval, the mentoring of new designers, the photo shoots and how they are discarded if they do not meet up to Ms Wintour's standards, and the endless discussion of the cover with actress Sienna Miller.

My favorite part was when Ms Coddington was inspired to use the camera man of this documentary in a photo shoot. After Ms Wintour sees the finished pictures, she wanted to have his slight belly air-brushed out while Ms Coddington insisted that the photos remained untouched.

Now if you have zero interest in the fashion industry, will "The September Issue" be worth seeing? Perhaps. As long as you go in with an open mind and are interested in discovering who is responsible for deciding that shoulder pads are fashionable again.