The September Issue Review

The September Issue Review

The September Issue

Released: 20 Aug 2009
Cast: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington
Director: R.J. Cutler
Screenplay: R.J. Cutler
Genre: Documentary
Rated: PG Infrequent coarse language
Running Time: 90 Minutes

Fashion Is A Religion. This Is The Bible.

Reputedly the inspiration for Meryl Streep's monstrous character in The Devil Wears Prada, Anna Wintour is high fashion's coolest and perhaps most powerful player. RJ Cutler's irreverent and beautifully observed documentary catches all of Wintour's buttoned-up mystique, and gets to the heart of what ruffles it - chiefly Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, a flamboyant foil to the boss' froideur. "The result is The September Issue, a riveting film that makes The Devil Wears Prada look like an episode of The Care Bears". This dazzling behind-the-scenes study reveals the personalities behind the world's glossiest magazine, over the nine months leading up to the printing of the year's most hotly anticipated issue.

My Verdict:
Vogue magazine is a monthly institution in the world of fashion, style and trends. Every September, a super-sized edition is released and in 2007 a new record was set for the biggest ever issue. Director, R.J. Cutler followed the process of how this particular issue came together with unprecedented access to this process.

As editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine for over 20 years, Anna Wintour is said to be a ruthless ice-queen with photos of her at fashion parades suggesting this to be true, but The September Issue doesn't reveal her to be quite as cold. She is ruthless though and very demanding and assertive shown often by her very quick appraisal of some of the fashion spreads throughout the documentary. She can quickly scan the photos and give an instant yes or no regardless of how much was actually spent in producing those images, which has often reached into the tens of thousands. This is her forte along with her ability to predict trends.

Alongside Anna Wintour is creative director Grace Coddington, a former model whose major talent is innovative artistic flair and vision along with her fortitude at challenging Anna Wintour especially when Anna Wintour decides to ditch one of her fashion spreads. The relationship between these women is fascinating and does provide some humorous and lighter moments throughout. Grace Coddington has no qualms about reversing some of Anna Wintour's decisions but you certainly feel like she is the only person who would be wickedly brave enough to do so.

The September Issue is not a comprehensive study of Vogue magazine as such, but more about some of the people behind the magazine and the lengths and efforts made to compile such a weighty issue - nearly 2kgs in fact! There are some open discussions about how to achieve certain goals, such as the cover photo of Sienna Miller which required many adjustments including re-touching her teeth and merging one body shot with another head shot, amongst other adjustments, which certainly show that even Vogue is not beyond creating the 'perfect' image and that they weren't afraid of this being filmed. These sorts of revelations provide some reassurance and in the words of Grace Coddington "Not everyone's perfect".

There is however, a feeling that not all has been revealed during the course of the movie - there are no big-time tantrums by anybody - and there is a feeling that Anna Wintour has deliberately chosen not to totally reveal herself. The stress factor alone at having to meet such enormous deadlines would surely have created a little more anxiety?

Backed by a modern soundtrack, The September Issue is a very insightful and fascinating journey and at the very least an opportunity to be involved in the process of producing a magazine that went on to sell over 13 millions copies for that month alone. Now that's record breaking and worth seeing.

Rating : ****

Christina Bruce