01 November 2009

Review: "The September Issue"

After the film The Devil Wears Prada, Anna Wintour's status as the ice queen of fashion editing was all but etched in stone. Speculation has always been that Anna Wintour was the inspiration of the 2003 novel and 2006 film (starring Meryl Streep in an Oscar-nominated performance). Anna Wintour, with her signature bob and ever-present sunglasses, was probably never bothered by the comparisons, and it can be assumed that the fashion industry benefited from the publicity. The September Issue is a documentary that follows Wintour and her colleagues (a term that can be used loosely) at Vogue as they prepare the year's most important issue: the September issue. Director R.J. Cutler and his camera crew were given unprecedented access to Vogue and its team of editors as they work to prepare the telephone book-size September issue for 2007. Anna Wintour made a timely decision to have her magazine scrutinized, it just seems a shame that it took another 2 years to have the film released for audiences.

For Vogue, as one editor at the magazine states in the film, September is their January. September is the month that women change their wardrobes and Vogue has established itself as a fashion authority. The September issue for 2007 was the magazine's largest, at over 800 pages. The film showcases Anna Wintour's total involvement in the magazine, from layout, to fashion choices for photo shoots and choosing the right font for the cover. for the first half of the film we see Wintour meet with her team of editors in attempts to choose the right articles for the issue, she meets with Stefano Pilati (creative designer of Yves Saint Laurent), and while still making the rounds at New York and Paris fashion weeks she finds time to meet with representatives from Neiman Marcus. While Anna Wintour is the obvious star of the film, there is great focus on her creative director, Grace Coddington. Unlike Anna Wintour, Grace wears her hair like a disheveled mass of red frizz, and does not hesitate to voice her complaints of Anna's editorial decisions to the cameras. Grace gives the film its heart, and she is incredibly gifted as a creative director.

The September Issue is not the exposé that the masses may have wanted, and it should not be expected. Anna gives little insight into her private life, save for a few scenes at home with her daughter. There is a great scene where Anna talks about her siblings, and had the scene continued we might have seen the great ice queen cry. It showed that there is a real person hiding behind her designer sunglasses. When the film ended I wanted to know more about Grace Coddington, it was her role in the film that was most refreshing. And the scenes with Andre Leon Talley, especially his attempt to play tennis, were hilarious. He may be a bigger caricature than Lady Gaga. The September Issue is definitely a thoroughly edited documentary that left out a lot of material, it did present the challenge of publishing a magazine and portayed Anna Wintour as an intelligent and knowledgeable editor.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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