Film Review: The September Issue

“The September Issue” is a documentary film about the careful cultivation of a very fat fall issue of American Vogue. The documentary aims to uncover the outrageous shenanigans behind Vogue’s usually closed doors, as we are dragged into this world of fashion worshippers, and their models – who give off less life than a cadaver. I have no idea how, but RJ Cutler, who directed the documentary, was granted full access to film the Vogue creative team over the whole season.  

Anna Wintour, the devil-in-chief, notoriously known for her signature bob haircut and mammoth Chanel sunglasses, is the single most important figure in the 300 billion dollar industry.

“There is something about fashion that makes people very nervous” declares Ms. Wintour, before flexing the twelve muscles in her face to look amiable. With her overly fond bob hair standing perfectly, and her strong British accent swirled up behind some polished American enunciation, she is the perfect caricature of what we expect a fashion editor-in-chief to be.

We first get a glimpse of how it is to work alongside this fabulous editor when she has a collection-preview in Yves Saint Laurent’s fashion house, and was completely unimpressed by the creative director, Stefano Pilato’s work. Obviously, Nuclear Wintour always gets what she wants, and even though these designers have clearly sacrificed so much to put their collections together, she labels them lazy, and proclaims that she hates lazy designers. Harsh. Her subordinates were again stunned by her shocking rudeness, when they proposed using the colour pink in their shoots, and she completely lost it. Insert awkward silence here.

It was at this point that the audience is introduced to another creative director, Grace Coddington, with her incredibly radiant hair. RJ quickly notices that there is more to the relationship between Anna and Grace, than Anna and Vogue, and so focusses on this for the remainder of the documentary. In all honesty, the documentary mostly centers on Anna bullying Grace; completely killing her spreads, forcing reshoots, and slating any creative decision she makes. It is astonishing to witness the amount of abuse these people receive, yet they still constantly proclaim their passion for their art at every opportunity! You begin to wonder whether they are actually happy, or just making the most of an awful situation.

So what do we learn about fashion itself? Well, despite the fabulous ads and wondrously glittery pages, there is always blood, sweat and tears behind all of it. The devil herself is so good at seeming evil that she makes Cruella look like a muppet doll. For those that have seen The Devil Wears Prada, you may begin to see where the inspiration for Miranda Priestly originated – eventhough Vogue continually attempt to disassociate themselves from such claims. I swear the layout of Miranda’s office is the exact copy of Vogue’s Time Square office that we see in the documentary though.. just watch it for yourself and form your own conclusion!

Directed by R. J. Cutler; director of photography, Bob Richman; edited by Azin Samari; music by Craig Richey; produced by Mr. Cutler, Eliza Hindmarch and Sadia Shepard; released by Roadside Attractions.

Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes.

Derek Wong 


"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light." - Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian

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