Review: The September Issue
Sep 11 2009 The Journal
Length: 1hr 30mins
Director: Anna Wintour
ANNA Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, has perfected the regal art of saying little while looking scarily inscrutable.
It’s a look enhanced by saucer-like shades, a hairdo like curtains and a pert mouth which doesn’t stretch easily into a smile.
Her father, she tells us drily, was a Fleet Street editor who gave up when he got too angry. She has learned to internalise her anger.
Still, there’s no need to scream and shout when everyone – well, nearly everyone – fawns and curtseys in your presence anyway.
Since one in 10 American women buys her slab of a mag, the bizarre bible of a multi- billion-dollar industry, this influential Englishwoman can be as regal as she likes.
RJ Cutler’s documentary follows Wintour and staff as they prepare for the autumn (or fall) 2008 issue of the magazine which they intend to be the biggest and heaviest yet.
I quite liked Wintour, with her unshakeable self-belief, but there is only one person in the film who struck me as totally sane.
Wintour’s daughter, Bee, who wants to be a lawyer, says: “Some people talk as if fashion is life but there are other things out there.”
Nearly everyone else is of the ‘fashion is life’ persuasion although you may warm, as I did, to Grace Coddington, who joined the magazine at the same time as Wintour and knows her of old.
A former top model and now an elegant redhead pushing 70, Welshwoman Grace is American Vogue’s ace creative director.
She spends ages preening and primping models into fabulous poses in extraordinary locations only to have her boss coolly reject her photographs. It makes her fume. Grace has seen fashion and magazines change, seen celebrities muscle in on models’ territory, but she is still addicted to her calling.
It’s all about creating illusions. Cover girl Sienna Miller’s fillings are digitally removed and her head transplanted from one neck to another. When the documentary cameraman is roped into a photo-shoot, Grace intervenes to stop them airbrushing out his too ample belly.
Much of the fashion world may be flaky and fake but the profits are real. More fool us.