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The September Issue – Film Review

December 31, 2015

The September Issue is a classic of fashion films, so though it’s oldish it’s worth a watch (and a review!)

It’s the 2009 documentary about the compiling of the September Issue of American Vogue, which is the biggest, most important issue of the year. “September is like our New Year” as one of the participants explains.

A shoot from The September Issue

A shoot from The September Issue

 

If you want to know what the atmosphere at a magazine is like, what photo shoots look like, and a quick sketch of how a magazine is put together The September Issue is the documentary to turn to.

 

But the main focus of the The September Issue isn’t on the magazine itself at all. It’s not a process-by-process instructional video. Instead, this film is about editor Anna Wintour – “The most powerful woman in America” an awed bystander whispers and on creative director Grace Coddington, the former 60s model who styles the bulk of the magazine’s shoots.

 

Together they are presented as the most important staff members, and they do get the most screen time. Grace later commented that she was shocked at how much of her was in the final cut. Anna apparently barely commented on the final film at all.

The September Issue – Earth and Ice

Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington at a fashion show

Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington at a fashion show

 

Anna discusses the magazine.

Anna discusses the magazine.

 

Grace in action, styling a model

Grace in action, styling a model

 

And of course, the Editor-in-Chief is certainly worth focussing on. But I think it was Grace’s character that captured the film makers most of all. A kind of down to earth-ness and abundant willingness to swear gives the 68-year-old, distinctive with her frizz of orange hair and red lipstick, a lot of charm. Does she, in real life, have that many clashes with or even that much contact with Wintour? I don’t know.

 

Anna Wintour is presented as the opposite. She seems petite and is immaculate in appearance, and immaculately controlled too. She is always called “an ice queen” and, well, a bitch, but she just seems focussed and reserved to me. She has a dry sense of humour and I didn’t see her being unkind or nasty about anyone, even behind their backs, just quite decisive.

The Power Behind the Fashion World

Anna in discussions with Mario Testino

Anna in discussions with Mario Testino

 

Wintour does, however, wield an enormous amount of power in the fashion world. She can get designers to change the fabric that they make their creations out of to something that the vendors agree is more wearable, and they breathlessly await her verdict on new collections, which she sees at the studio in the design stage.

A high street retailer asks her to recommend a guest designer, and they accept her choice, a young designer called Thayat who has since risen assuredly in the fashion world. Having Anna Wintour’s support counts for a very great deal.

 

There are interviews with her at home, too. We see her with her daughter who does not want to go into fashion but law instead. Anna seems to think that the rest of her family might not think much of fashion, or her job, either.

A Glimpse into Fashion

The September Issue also gives you some lovely glimpses of amazing catwalk shows, as well as glimpses of designers like Jean Paul Gaultier’s empire and creators like Thayat at work.

 

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