The September Issue
RJ Cutler, political documentary filmmaker and self confessed fashion-ignoramus, is an unlikely candidate to be granted access to the hallowed halls of Vogue magazine; yet in 2007, he received an invitation from the ‘high priestess’ of fashion herself, Anna Wintour, to chronicle the creation of Vogue’s September issue, the largest in its history. The result is brilliant and, of course, highly political.
This is far more than The Devil Wears Prada done verité-style. It is a film about a multi-billion dollar business, created and driven by two highly individual and discerning women, both of whom are over the age of 60 (although age, naturally, is never discussed); it’s also about the mad discrepancy between fantasy and reality and the industry that manufactures and maintains this airbrushed illusion, which is to say that it is a film about fashion as an art form.
Whether Cutler manages to crack Wintour’s infamous icy veneer is debatable as she does so little to dispel ‘the myth’ herself. Ultimately, she’s not the real star of this show anyway: Vogue’s creative director of 20 years and former flame-haired fashion model from Wales, Grace Coddington is. Coddington’s steely determination to get her own way is only matched by her extraordinary vision and passion for the work she does and the resulting frosty rapport between herself and Wintour makes for utterly mesmerising viewing.
Cutler has made a compelling, funny and intelligent film. He has also (unwittingly) produced a historical document since, given the current economic climate, it’s unlikely that Vogue will ever be able to produce another issue on the scale of that of September 2007 again.
Selected release from Fri 11 Sep.