Wintour, known in the fashion world as the ‘ice queen’ is presented as rather human, in this insightful, and anything-but-shallow documentary about Vogue’s flagship September Issue. Every year, the September issue is the biggest and most important of the season, and this documentary explores the work that goes into it, as well as uncovering the human side of the superficial world of fashion, models and photographers.
In interviews with Wintour, R.J Cutler exposes a fragile and sympathetic side of the ‘ice queen’ the media usually prevent us from seeing, as she admits that her siblings find her choice of career ‘amusing’. The camera continues to roll, and Wintour’s insecurity in the face of family judgement is revealed. The September Issue explores this idea of fashion journalism as sub-standard career, and an interview with Wintour’s daughter answers the question perfectly: she respects her mother and her work, but believes there are more important things in life. The film reaches the conclusion that working in the fashion industry is no shame, provided those people do not devote their lives to it, and become consumed by consumerism.
An example of one with her values in the right place is Grace Coddington, Vogue’s creative director. Alongside Wintour and the magazine itself, we follow Coddington, who rose from teenage model to Vogue genius. Considering what we ‘learn’ about the people who work in fashion from films like The Devil Wears Prada, Coddington is shockingly lovely and hippy-like. Her outlook on life at the magazine is positive and she loves her work, yet clings on to an old fashioned romanticism that she feels is lacking in modern publication.
Coddington and Wintour started working at American Vogue on the very same day, and their working relationship is extraordinary: Coddington is the only staff member whom we see standing up to Anna, and their mutual understanding of each other’s talents is pleasing as we see the human side of the rarely-interviewed Wintour, who is shot most of the time looking much warmer and friendlier than she is portrayed by the press. Her silences, however, can be more powerful than words, and what goes unspoken in this documentary is a significant looming presence.
For me, Coddington is the star of the film, as we follow her creative journey from idea to shoot to boardroom, and we feel her frustration when her work gets cut from the magazine. Coddington is a true talent, undoubtedly, and Wintour’s faith in her despite her old fashioned ways is great to see in such a prestigious and facade-embracing company.
A must-see for any fashion enthusiasts, but also a brilliantly shot and expertly told story of friendship and creativity.