SEPTEMBER ISSUE, THE
The September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine weighed nearly five pounds and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published. With unprecedented access, this film tells the story of legendary Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her larger-than-life team of editors creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
More a snapshot then a full blown insight into either Vogue, its September 2007 issue or its famous editor, Anna Wintour, the film has many positives and a few irritants. But it does take us at leat half way into the world of fashion bible, Vogue, and that of Wintour. Our suspicion is that for Wintour there is little else that she calls her life, her children excepted - of whom we meet only one, the smart Bee studying law. Nor do meet her husband. This limited private view of her skews the film towards Vogue and how its biggest issue of every year - and in this case its biggest issue ever, at 840 pages - gets put together under Wintour's stern, demagogic and demanding control.
The permanent state of tension in this mini-empire is well captured as is the 20 year long tussle between Wintour and senior stylist Grace Coddington who spends her life irritated, frustrated and annoyed at Wintour's decisions.
And then there's the fashion: designer clothes to make the eyes boggle and the wallets shrink. Photo shoots at US$50,000 a pop, sometimes excluded from the magazine in a moment of decision making (Wintour's forté is decisiveness). The excess is glamorous; Louis Vuitton outfitted tennis practice for one of the heavyweights in the editorial team and racks full of the latest, most eye catching outfits. And a quick tutorial in how celebrity covers are shot, debated, airbrushed and wrangled into being.
Anna Wintour (like Coddington) is English born, and her father was also an editor. But R.J. Cutler's film shows a woman feared and idolised by the fashion world like some emperor with a capricious bent. The film has everything we expect - if not enough of what we don't - and provides a rare glimpse into both the fashion world and into Vogue's publishing methods, which have such influence around the globe.
Review by Louise Keller:
The Devil Wears Prada whetted our appetites; now here's the real thing. A hypnotic fly-on-the wall look behind the scenes of Vogue Magazine, this dynamic and unpredictable documentary offers much more than a who's who of fashion. More than a fashion parade, more than an insight into publishing, more than a cutthroat arena of decision making, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of R.J. Cutler's film, is peeping into the life of editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, whose power in the fashion world is unquestioned. Unlike cover shots that can be endlessly airbrushed into perfection, the elegant, controversial Wintour is shown through the prying lens of the camera. Intriguing, revealing and thoroughly entertaining, we are privy to a front row seat in the fashion show of the decade.
Angled at the lead up to the creation of Vogue's biggest issue ever in September 2007, which sold more than 13 million copies, the film's grunt lies in the creative love/ hate relationship between Wintour and her outspoken creative director Grace Coddington. Coddington is everything Wintour is not. She is warm, matter of fact, expressive, honest with a dry sense of humour and an infectious laugh. The model-looks that launched her career as a model (Lord Snowdon snapped her photo in 1959) have long gone. Instead, her trademark long frizzy red hair and practical black garb show us a talented woman comfortable in her own skin.
Wintour is the epitome of elegance with heavily streaked bob, sunglasses and wears an air of world weariness like an unshakeable accessory. She practises her motto that less is more. The fact that her daughter Bee insists she will not go into either into fashion or journalism (preferring to go to law school) is obviously one Wintour regrets, albeit we get the impression that Wintour hopes she may convince her to change her mind. Meryl Streep may not have resembled her physically in The Devil Wears Prada, but she certainly captured something of her essence. Both women are formidable talents and equally stubborn. They are also generous in their praise for each other, although we rub our hands in gleeful anticipation as we witness their creative difference and clashes.
The September Issue is essentially a dialogue about fashion and the fashion world. We are there at the meetings, the fittings, the catwalks, the shoots and in the corridors of the New York Time Squares offices where politics, creative decisions and high-level stress teeter as if on impossibly high stilettos. We meet designers, assistants, executives and models. The cover shoot in Rome with actress Sienna Miller is an eye-brow arching experience - from the initial meeting, the shoot itself and the process through which the cover is realised. It's what is NOT said that is most interesting. If you've ever wondered how those glossy, photographs in which perfect bodies wearing suffocatingly tight gowns that embody style with a capital S find their way into Vogue, this will give you a tantalising glimpse.
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SEPTEMBER ISSUE, THE (PG)
CAST: Documentary with Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington
PRODUCER: R.J. Cutler, Eliza Hindmarch, Sadia Shepard
DIRECTOR: R.J. Cutler
SCRIPT: R.J. Cutler
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richman
EDITOR: Azin Samari
MUSIC: Craig Richey
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 20, 2009