Friday, October 2, 2009

The September Issue (Rhoades)

“The September Issue” Humanizes a Devil
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Think of it as the real-life version of “The Devil Wears Prada.” This documentary focuses on Anna Wintour, the infamous editor in chief of Vogue, who was in fact the model for Meryl Streep’s movie character.

Here you’ll see Wintour as she oversees the famous September issue of Vogue, a five-pound 840-page package of advertising and haute couture.

This is the magazine’s big fall-fashion issue, so the film is simply titled “The September Issue.” It’s playing at the Tropic Cinema for all of you fashionistas out there.

I occasionally saw Anna Wintour at publishing functions, hiding behind her dark bangs and even darker sunglasses. But she’s more often found front row at Milan or Parisian catwalks, taking in the latest fashion shows by the big-name designers.

With lots of power in the fashion world, Wintour is a make-it-or-break-it arbiter of trends and taste. What she features in her magazine sets the style around the world. For the past twenty years she has ruled the roost at this Condé Nast publication, having wrested control from its previous editor Grace Mirabella.

Director R. J. Cutler was given unprecedented access as Wintour and her staff put together the 2007 September issue, offering an insider’s look at how a magazine comes together. One in eight American women purchased that particular issue.

At times, the star of the doc seems to be Vogue’s creative director Grace Coddington. Although Wintour’s a notorious ice queen, Coddington makes her look downright cuddly by comparison. Coddington’s pronouncements that “fashion has no mercy, dahling!” and “Nobody is perfect, but models are” form the film’s central theme.

But Wintour holds her own. “I think she enjoys not being completely approachable,” says Coddington. “Just her office is very intimidating, right? You have to walk about a mile into the office before you get to her desk and I’m sure it’s intentional.”

The relationship between Wintour and Coddington is rumored to be a difficult one. Whisperings that Wintour might retire have been refuted by Condé Nast.

Dropping out of school at 16, British-born Wintour began her career in fashion with a training program at Harrods. Later she took a few classes, but soon dropped out, saying, “You either know fashion or you don’t.”

She entered the world of fashion journalism in 1970 as an editorial assistant at Harper’s & Queens. Even back then, she let co-workers know it was her ambition to edit Vogue.

“The Devil Wears Prada” was authored by Lauren Weisenberger, Wintour’s one-time personal assistant. Neither Vogue nor any other Condé Nast publication reviewed the book. However, Wintour attended the movie premiere, commenting it made fashion “entertaining and glamorous and interesting.”

“The September Issue,” released three years later, was seen as a ploy to tell her side of the story.

“For the past year or so, she’s been on the media warpath to win back her image,” explains Slant Magazine. She hoped it would “humanize” her.

When I’ve bumped into Anna Wintour at publishing gatherings, she was surrounded by assistants and sycophants, appearing unapproachable. Maybe it’s like one of her friends said, “Anna doesn’t do small talk.”
[from Solares Hill]

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