The September Issue
Review by Cassam Looch
FOLLOWING on from the frightening Meryl Streep creation in Devil Wears Prada, Anna Wintour finally appears as herself bringing you The September Issue… the most influential edition of fashion magazine.
Whereas the character in The Devils Wears Prada was supposedly only based on Wintour, this film shows her in all her intimidating pomp in a fairly uncompromising documentary format.
Taking us behind her trademark bob and huge sunglasses The September Issue is an amusing, touching and often surprising look at the inner workings and untouchable glamour of the fashion industry. It follows the staff of Vogue in their footsteps as they prepare the biggest ever issue of the magazine at fashion shoots in Paris, London and Milan.
Exposing the truth behind the pictures, and featuring appearances from some of the world’s most fascinating designers, including Jean Paul Gaultier and actress and covergirl Sienna Miller, the Vogue team all offer insights into the industry and some of the pitfalls they face.
Spending 90 minutes in the company of the cold Wintour would have been too much for any viewer, so it’s a relief that we’re introduced to Grace Coddington early on, the Creative Director at Vogue.
She is not only a genuinely likable character but also seemingly the only person that isn’t afraid to get her point across to Anna. The pair have an oddly comforting relationship, and it’s good to see that they rely on one another… with the creative flair of Grace being appreciated by the clinical and sharp Anna.
Other members of the Vogue staff do tend to be depressingly stereotypical, with the ultra camp assistant taking customized luggage to a tennis match after being told by ‘the boss’ that he needs to lose weight. Some of these moments feel forced and, in all honesty, have nothing to do with the pressures of putting together the magazine.
It’s this working environment and the pressures therein that translate to most people’s daily lives. Sure, you might not be dealing in supermodels and glamorous international photoshoots, but the deadlines and need to please demanding customers is still the same.
Wintour cuts down most of the minions around her with acerbic excellence yet even she struggles to comprehend the creative requirements of the publication (enter former model Coddington).
Aside from a couple moments of forced posing and manufactured tension, the film overall remains riveting. Sienna Miller, popping up as the celebrity covergirl, is as genuinely surprising as it is candid, allowing us a look into the world she inhabits if only briefly.
With its blend of very different characters and glamorous locations The September Issue is a fun and enjoyable documentary which is as real as most of the pictures in the magazine. It’s slightly manipulated but still 99% genuine.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: September 21, 2009