The September Issue, a documentary directed by R.J. Cutler, came out in 2008, but I just got it from Netflix (soon available for streaming, yay!) last night and had to watch it immediately. It ostensibly follows Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, as she prepares the September 2007 issue of the magazine, the most iconic (and largest) issue of any given year. However, the movie largely ends up following Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, who was a model until she was disfigured in a car accident in her late 20s. What’s so intriguing about the movie is these two entirely different women, both British, both having started at Vogue on the same day (in 1988), are at the epicenter of current American fashion.
You only get glimpses of the staging of the many shoots Coddington ends up staging for the issue, but you see a large number of the photos, including ones that were cut, and her brilliance as a creative director is undeniable. Fashion photography has been a fascination of mine for as long as I can remember, so watching amazing shoots like the ones in the movie, even briefly, are extremely enchanting for me. Coddington is also exceedingly unimpressed by models/actresses and eventually argues against excessive airbrushing, all of which is nice to see.
Winters rarely shows emotion in the interviews (her bobbed hair is always perfect, however) but she does let the cameras inside her home for short periods where you meet her daughter, who couldn’t give a flying fig about Vogue, and hopes to go to law school instead. Winters herself, in a rare moment, reveals that her siblings also have no real respect for her chosen profession, and her excessive importance in the fashion world is given an interesting new dimension.
On the whole there’s nothing hard hitting or dramatic about this documentary, that’s not its aim, but it combines my love of fashion, photography, and documentaries into one quite enjoyable experience so I couldn’t help but really like it.