“The September Issue” Reveals Human Side of Vogue Magazine

vogue.jpgI’ve always admired Vogue magazine.
My roommate, a seamstress in the fashion industry, used to get a
subscription, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to snatch a few of
her issues and flip through. One look, and it’s impossible not
to respect this magazine. From the glamorous cover and gorgeous spreads
to the outlandish clothes and ethereal models, everything is perfectly
polished and packaged. And to me, it represented something
unattainable. So after a quick skim, I usually put the issue down.

When I sat down recently to watch “The September Issue,” a behind-the-scenes documentary that chronicles the creation of Vogue magazine’s
highly anticipated and historic September 2007 issue, I was surprised
to hear infamous editor-in-chief Anna Wintour addressing people like me
in the opening scene. “There is something about fashion that makes
people nervous,” she says, cracking a tentative smile. Yep, I nodded.
Her candor made me want to know more about the imposing fashion queen
and magazine.

And “The September Issue” does just that.
Directed by R.J. Cutler, the 90-minute film takes you behind the
clothing racks and shelves of shoes, bags and accessories that adorn
the Vogue magazine office, and offers a glimpse into the dynamics
between Anna Wintour and the people she interacts with daily–the
designers who respect her and the staff that worships her. The camera
observes the editor as she presides over meetings, hobnobs with
advertisers, scrutinizes trembling designers who come to show their
collections and critiques runway fashions from behind her trademark

Unlike her Miranda Priestly incarnation in “The Devil Wears Prada”
(a movie loosely based on former assistant Lauren Weisberger’s
experiences at Vogue magazine), Anna Wintour comes off as cool and
businesslike rather than frigid and cruel. She simply likes what she
likes–and she isn’t afraid to express that or push until she gets it.
“It is always going to be Anna’s point of view,” one of the editors
says. “It’s Anna’s magazine.” Few people are willing to challenge that
point of view, but one exception is the magazine’s visionary creative
director, Grace Coddington. A former model who started working at the
magazine the same day as her boss, Grace Coddington has her own ideas
about fashion and how to portray it, and she isn’t afraid to argue
about anything, from artistic interpretation of photos to wardrobes to
the budget.

Throughout the film, the veil behind the
magazine’s picture-perfect image is lifted, and viewers are treated to
a candid–and often amusing–peek into all of the planning and
coordination it takes to put together a 699-page issue in five months.
There are plenty of ego clashes, photo shoot snafus and
down-to-the-wire moments. But the most fascinating part isn’t Anna
Wintour or the lonely life she leads outside the office; it’s watching
her and Grace Coddington collide and collaborate. The editor-in-chief
may be the brains behind Vogue magazine, but the creative director is
its heart. By revealing the delightfully imperfect side of the magazine
and the people behind its masthead, “The September Issue” helps Vogue magazine fans relate to both a little better.

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Emily McMackin

About Emily McMackin

Emily McMackin is an editor, writer and perpetual storyteller with an incurable addiction to coffee, magazines, Neil Diamond and Caribbean travel. She resides in Music City USA (that's Nashville, Tenn., ya'll!), where you'll find her staking out live music, salsa dancing, scouring town for the best latte and working on her first No. 1 (book that is).

  • http://behindthemystery.blogspot.com Lisa

    I loved this movie, and you’ve captured the most fascinating part of it. I didn’t know who Grace was when I started watching it, but to see even Anna Wintour try to duck out of the offices without running into her (after she had cut Grace’s spreads) made for great moments. Even if you have no interest in fashion whatsoever, as a creative person, it’s worth watching.