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Poster for The September Issue

The September Issue: Movie Review

Three stars
Genre: Documentary
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
R.J. Cutler
Starring: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Thakoon
Released by: Roadside Attractions

In Short: An insider look into the world of Vogue magazine editor-in chief-Anna Wintour and the preparation of the hallowed "September Issue."

Meet the Real Vogue Devil

A Journey to the Inside of Fashion's Favorite Magazine

When documentary director R. J. Cutler got the go-ahead from Vogue magazine editor in chief Anna Wintour to bring his cameras inside the walls of her hallowed fashionista bible, neither one realized that they would be chronicling the beginning of the end.

Traditionally, September is the issue of fashion magazines that advertisers flock to be a part of, the issue that brings in the most revenue for any magazine, but especially for Vogue, which has always been known for its phonebook-like size at that time of year. And the 2007 “September Issue” turned out to be the mother of them all, weighing in at a whopping 727 pages.

Sadly, that moment in time is long gone, as Vogue has joined the rest of the magazine publishing industry in struggling for its life in the recent recession. In fact, the current September issue of the magazine is only 427 pages. What a difference a few years makes in the advertising health of a publication, and what a moment for Cutler to chronicle, truly the apex of the magazine’s existence.

Anna Wintour watches models in The September Issue Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington at a fitting in The September Issue

Cutler’s film follows ice queen Wintour – the real-life woman that Meryl Streep so famously fictionally assayed in The Devil Wears Prada – as she coldly bullies her way around the New York offices of the magazine and beyond, moving menacingly into the ateliers of some of the world’s most famous fashion designers, who quiver and cower in her presence, and on to the Paris runway shows, where she hides behind large sunglasses as the models strut by. In Wintour’s world, no one ever knows what she is thinking, and she obviously likes it that way.

But there’s one person who takes on the aloof editor at every turn. That’s Grace Coddington, the mag’s creative director, and in many ways the real star of the movie. She’s warm, down to earth, and won’t be intimidated by Wintour; in fact, she and Wintour’s daughter are the only two people in the film that do not seem intimidated by Wintour’s dour presence. Whenever Coddington is on screen, The September Issue glows with her intelligence, humor, and dedication to art and beauty. It’s too bad that she’s not the main focus of this documentary, for the stretches spotlighting Wintour often yawningly drag on, as the tight-lipped British editor plays everything too close to her Prada vest.


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