REVIEW: The September Issue

31 03 2010

The September Issue” is a documentary that gives a fascinating exposé into the fashion industry – or religion, as some see it.  Their chief diety is Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, who has the ability to make or break a trend.  It is largely because of her vision and foresight that the magazine has secured a foothold as the leading voice in fashion.

But most people know Wintour as Miranda Priestly, the character from “The Devil Wears Prada” played by Meryl Streep and written by one of Wintour’s former assistants.  The 2006 movie played her off as an ice woman with no soul, yet here there is no attempt to satanize her.  In fact, “The September Issue” avoids taking much of a stance on Wintour at all, and I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to form my own opinion on her.  To me, she is just a woman dedicated to perfection and refuses to accept anything less.

And “The September Issue” isn’t the real “The Devil Wears Prada;” that is to say, the movie isn’t out to paint us a portrait of Wintour.  It’s a glimpse into all the pain-staking efforts that come together to make the largest monthly edition of a magazine in history.  The September 2007 edition of Vogue that we follow from concepts to the presses is more like a fashion textbook, weighing over five pounds and amassing over 800 pages.  Although a lot of people write off some of these fashion shoots as silly, the movie gives us some fascinating insights into how much thought goes into them.

But to be honest, the movie’s real star is Grace Coddington, Vogue‘s creative director and often a foil for Wintour.  Grace is the movie’s scene stealer, which is quite a feat in a documentary.  While Wintour is all business, Grace is very emotionally invested in her work and finds herself frustrated whenever her boss doesn’t appreciate the shoots she puts together.  A former model, Grace has a great sense of what works and what doesn’t, and eventually Wintour clicks with her.  There’s plenty of drama between the two of them if that’s what you are looking for in “The September Issue,” but you’ll find more matter-of-fact filmmaking that documents an extraordinary process.  That’s pretty dramatic in its own right.  B+ /


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2 responses

1 04 2010
Jennifer

I felt the same way about Grace Coddington, she was the star. My favorite part about the movie was seeing Anne at home with her daughter, and her daughter talking about how she doesn’t understand fashion and that people take it too seriously. Also, when Anna mentions how each of her siblings think that what she does is ridiculous. It made me feel as if I knew Anna Wintor, and I felt as if it made the movie seem more personal.

3 04 2010
Marshall

I’ll admit I did think the parts that you mentioned were particularly poignant, especially the conversation with her daughter. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that I felt like I knew Wintour, but it was a great example of how in-depth the movie went.

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