Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Documentary Film Review: The September Issue

     This 90 minute documentary chronicles the inner workings of Vogue's biggest production of the year -- the September issue [duh]. It follows the magazine's notorious and legendary editor in chief Anna Wintour and its reative director Grace Coddington. The issue produced in the film was the September 2007 featuring Sienna Miller as the cover girl which weighed nearly five pounds [*yikes] and was the largest issue that American Vogue has ever published

     The production of the issue starts out months and months ahead of time [five or so months as featured in the film] and it gives the audience an inside look of the business that goes on to produce such massive issue. I feel as if the general public sees the world of fashion as this glitz and glamour type of place and this film portrays the harsh reality of such world -- lots of preparations, details, designing, and editing [very cut throat]. There were several instances in the film when they used the word kill when referring to not including, or worse, discarding an entire shoot for a spread in the magazine where lots and lots of hard work, creativity, and especially money [$$$$] could potentially be put to waste. 

"There is something about fashion that can make people really nervous."
- Anna Wintour

     The entire film gravitates around two key players of American Vogue which are British born Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. The one-on-one segments featuring Anna Wintour is really moving because for the first time you actually get to see what else is going on behind those primly cut bangs and dark shades. She talked about how her relationship with her father and her siblings greatly influences her. Her father, Charles Wintour, whom she greatly admired and respected, was a newspaper editor in England, and her other siblings are involved in obscure businesses around the world. In a way, such relationships explain her perfectionist-detail-oriented tendencies and 'ice-woman' facade and why this billion dollar industry, despite the fact that it makes a lot of people uncomfortable, has its importance. Her daughter Katherine was also featured in the film which completely humanizes Wintour. Aside from being the most influential woman in fashion, she is also a mother and someone a lot like us in many ways [minus al the couture!]. 

     Grace Coddington, on the other hand, perfectly juxtaposes Wintour's reputation and character. As the creative director of the magazine, she is the genius behind the beautiful fashion spreads that we see in the magazine. As a creative director, her job is to interpret the fashion and tell a story with it. She has a very prominent role in styling and producing the issue. As Anna Wintour is the one responsible for editing and choosing what goes in the magazine, Grace Coddington is the one that makes the fantasy and story come to life. Her personal story was very remarkable and heartfelt. As a teenager she was actually a model for British Vogue but at the age of 26 she was involved in a terrible car accident which left her disfigured [she lost her eyelid]. She was later hired by British Vogue as a Junior Editor and later joined Anna Wintour at American Vogue in New York City in1988. 

"Never fall asleep during a car ride -- you'll never know what will inspire you"
- Grace Coddington

     I very much connected with Grace while watching the film because for someone who used to be featured on the cover of Vogue and have some awful event alter her life, I feel as if she now translates her [once/inner/gone] beauty on to her work and to the pages of Vogue, which is really incredible. Because when you pick up a copy of a high fashion magazine on the newsstands it's seldom that you think about the people behind the production. With her story, I felt as if I learned the meaning of beauty from every perspective [inner and outer beauty]. 

     And of course, a documentary about a the production of a high fashion magazine wouldn't be complete without the cast of all-stars! The film featured photographers like Patrick DeMarchelier and , Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld [*alleluia], and designers such as Philip Lim and Vera Wang. This film was a perfect mix of creativity, seriousness, humor, and of course high fashion! Watch it and I guarantee that you will be inspired and moved. 

Love, KB

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