Documentary Review: The September Issue

This weekend I caught one of the first showings of The September Issue at the Curzon Mayfair cinema in London.

First of all, if you have never been to the Curzon Mayfair cinema then I would definitely recommend that you give it a try. It has a really great atmosphere, a cute little bar where you can get drinks (including alcoholic) before the film, and popcorn, ice creams and other snacks and drinks for during it and, most importantly, the screen is huge and it’s a perfect size auditorium to feel like it’s an event at the same as being relatively cozy and the seats are extremely comfortable.

As for the documentary itself, I would highly recommend it. I haven’t laughed so much at the cinema in a very long time, if ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with The September Issue, it’s a documentary about Vogue putting together the September 2007 issue of the magazine. The one that Sienna Miller was on the cover of. The time when Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief at Vogue famously, and allegedly, called Miller ‘toothy’. Teeth comments do come up in the documentary but perhaps not in the way that the press would have us believe they did.

Most of the documentary focuses on Anna Wintour and the Creative Director at American Vogue, Grace Coddington. The office politics between Wintour and Coddington are nothing short of hilarious. You see the way that these two extremely talented women work together and the way that they have to very carefully deal with each others very strong personalities.

They both work the camera in their own ways, each putting across certain aspects of their personalities and the way they work in a slightly forced and stylised way perhaps. But it’s also clear that they are both at the height of their career and arguably the best at what they do in the world.  

And, as we are all well aware from stories about her, the documentary solidifies the fact that Wintour is indeed an extremely powerful woman and clearly has some of the biggest names in the fashion industry and pretty much everyone in the American Vogue office (apart from Coddington) wrapped around her little finger. But at the same time, when you see scenes of her with her daughter you can also see the softer, more human side to her personality which is often ignored by the press.

It’s said that Wintour was the inspiration behind Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, but watching this, I would say that is slightly unfair. Wintour may be capable of being quite cut-throat in her decisions about what goes into the magazine but it’s also clear from the documentary that she has a heart and can always recognise and appreciate talent in others. 

The documenary also gives the audience a really great opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes at American Vogue and on their fashion shoots. You come to appreciate just how much work goes into the production of one of their magazines and how much planning, time, talent, creativity and money goes into each issue of this prolific magazine.

And if all of that doesn’t tempt you to see it then I would also say it’s worth watching it purely for the entertainment value of Andre Leon Talley who is Editort-at-Large at American Vogue. His outfits and some of his ridiculous one-liners are enough to leave you choking on your popcorn. In one scene he is ‘playing tennis’ draped in half the Louis Vuitton range. It’s one of these things which is difficult to describe but something that MUST be seen. 

All in all, even if you don’t spend that much time thinking about clothes or reading magazines like Vogue, don’t be put off by the fact that this is a documentary about a fashion magazine, it’s actually more a documentary about office politics and how to run a business extremely successfully. I really do think there is something in this for everyone and if you do get the chance then I would certainly recommend that you take the time to go and watch it.

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One response to “Documentary Review: The September Issue

  1. Pingback: Less guilt, more pleasure: how cinema is becoming a healthier yet more comfortable experience « Snippets of Sense

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