You’re going to learn a little something about Vogue editor Anna Wintour by watching “The September Issue.” She is supposedly the inspiration for “The Devil Wears Prada.” She’s dense, fierce, complex and a damn good editor, but everyone in lifestyle journalism already knew that.

However, what you really need to learn from watching “The September Issue” is how big an impact that journalism has on your life, whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not.

There’s no shortage of idiots cheering the downfall of the American newspaper and more recently the American magazine. Watching R.J. Cutler’s documentary, it’s clear that the focus is less on a biographical swooning over Wintour and more on making people understand the impact that she “" and thus her magazine “" has on people’s regular lives. (There IS, of course, a great scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” about the color cerulean that sums this up nicely)

Directed by: R.J. Cutler
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rated: PG-13

The September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine was a monumental 800+ page undertaking during the peak of the fashion year. The documentary, made over eight months, chronicles the making of the issue, largely through the eyes of Wintour and her polar opposite, the magazine’s creative director, Grace Coddington.

Wintour is cold, businesslike and very calculating in the film. Coddington is fluffy, artsy and emotional. The pairing works well for Vogue, and we see the two of them butting heads and getting frustrated on their way to a mega-magazine.

Wintour is the focus of the film, as is seen through the opening montage of fashion icons referring to her as a goddess. And it’s true. Things happen in the world of fashion because she wills them to be so.

That’s the movie. Sure, there’s a telephone book sized September 2008 issue being made in the background, but “The September Issue” shows in intricate detail what journalism “" particularly the always underestimated lifestyle journalism “" means to society.

Not to be left out is what Coddington adds to the flick. The red-haired Welshwoman couples heart to Wintour’s brains as she travels the world setting up glamorous photo shoots with supermodels only to have some of her favorite shots rejected. Frustrated, she rolls with it and schedules more photographs. The two woman enjoy a teenage brother-esque relationship of constantly challenging each other, but instead of football, it’s fashion.

“I think I know when to stop pushing her” Coddington says. “She doesn’t know when to stop pushing me.”

The documentary is well done. It’s nicely edited with good camera movements and even a catching soundtrack,

But wait, there’s more.

While it’s easy to picture Meryl Streep barking away at her underlings, the documentary does a good job showing us that Wintour is still a person, a woman and a mother, even while she’s rejecting $50,000 worth of photography after looking at it for six seconds.

In one of the most poignant scenes, Wintour interacts with her daughter, Bee Shaffer, who all but brags about the fact that she’s not at all interested in ever working for Vogue or ever working in fashion. The camera turns to Wintour who, while never letting down her guard or breaking into human emotion, seems to be mentally willing her daughter to stop saying that.

A bit of humanity, even from the devil.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

3 Responses

  1. Wasabi

    It was actually the September Issue of **2007** featuring Sienna Miller on the cover that was in creation during the making of the film.

    Please correct.

    Great article though.


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