As a long-time Vogue subscriber, this movie felt like a love letter to me. I’m not even sure it’s possible for me to be unbiased about the merits of the documentary as I’m so enamored with the subject matter that R.J. Cutler probably could have shown me grainy black and white security camera footage of Anna Wintour for an hour and a half and I would have sat there enthralled. That said, I think this is a fine film and quite well done. It was wonderful to get a peek behind the scenes of what makes the magazine work and the many, many creative people who make it happen month after month.
Grace Coddington, Creative Director of Vogue, is featured prominently in the film, second only to Wintour herself. Grace might not be as well-known as Anna (at least she wasn’t before this documentary) to the general public, but she’s an enduring fashion icon in her own right and seemingly still going strong well into her seventies. I find her fascinating. I’m currently reading Grace: A Memoir for the Paper & Glam Book Club – I’ll post my review of the book on Oct. 29.
There are a host of other editors and photographers and designers and models who appear in the film. So many in fact, that I think I need to watch the film a few more times to catch them all. The flamboyant and fabulous André Leon Talley was still with Vogue at the time and he makes a few appearances in the film. The scenes of him on the tennis courts with his Louis Vuitton case to hold his water bottles is everything people mock about the fashion industry and still completely and utterly delightful.
The documentary does a good job of showing just how much work and content needs to be generated to fill up the pages of a magazine. I did a brief stint in publishing and I found the interplay between creative, the publisher, the editors and the all-important advertisers very interesting. I particularly loved the photos shoots and the styling and the location scouting – all the hard work that goes into capturing the beautiful image you see on the page for a second as you flip through your latest copy of Vogue. And all the beautiful images that don’t make the cut and never get to be seen.
The September Issue has a 83% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was recognized at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival with a win for the Cinematography Award and a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize. If you love fashion, if you love Vogue, or even if you’re just curious about the publishing industry, I highly recommend this film.