The September Issue is a fairly straight-forward documentary that offers an exclusive peek into the creation of Vogue’s biggest, most important and most popular issue, yet still manages to feel a bit remote and arm’s length. The film focuses primarily on the tight-mouthed and crossed-hand critiques (which I seldom agreed with) of Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and, at the other end of the spectrum, the spirited work and luminous presence of Creative Director Grace Coddington. And while you can almost glimpse the actual woman behind the severe haircut when she reveals that she’s pretty much the family’s frivolous black sheep and hangs out with her daughter (who has no apparent interest in following on her mother’s footsteps), Wintour remains as aloof as you’d expect – though not quite the industry monster Meryl Streep portrayed he as (but not quite as redeemable, either).
Aside from coming off dismissive and ice cold, her most monstrous deeds are, in my opinion, touted throughout the film as her greatest achievements: bringing back fur and putting celebrities on the covers of fashion magazines. Quite frankly, I am not impressed – particularly with the latter. It was tough to watch this epic fashion tome built around the mediocre starlet that is Sienna Miller, especially when the more adventurous Italian Vogue broke ground with their all Black issue the same year and pictured Agyness Deyn with soldiers on their September issue… but I’m digressing into my own qualms with the publication (which I stopped subscribing to years ago in protest of Jennifer Aniston’s 14th cover story).
While the September Issue is an obvious must-see for fashion fans, those of you who have never been inclined to pick up an issue of Vogue will still find it rather amusing (to borrow from Wintour’s lexicon). It’s at its best when Coddington, who is this week’s style icon as well as the author of this week’s book, is on-screen.