The September Issue directed by R.J. Cutler
As the editor of Vogue magazine for 20 years, Anna Wintour believes that most of the public doesn't understand and is frightened of fashion. And many members of the public believe that the people who work in the fashion industry or follow it are frightened of her. R.J. Cutler's documentary The September Issue doesn't aim to dispel or confirm that rumor. Instead, Cutler's movie follows the process of putting together the largest issue in Vogue's history, September 2007, and in the nine months he follows her and her staff, he gets closer to Wintour than insiders or outsiders thought possible.
Cinéma-vérité veteran Cutler and his camera step right into the action at the magazine's headquarters during meetings and into private offices during tense decisions, and simply roams the halls, showing off the amazing racks of designer clothing and employees who follow the European look of less make-up and natural hair pulled back. He also catches many private moments. He shoots Wintour's modestly decorated Manhattan home, Wintour with her daughter Bee at their Long Island country home paging through past September issues, and even presents photos of a younger Wintour with her father Charles, a career editor as well. Even though her father suggested she aim to edit Vogue, when Wintour speaks of him and her siblings, she recalls having to defend the seriousness of her job.
Wintour, nonetheless, is a hard nut to crack--every grin, every candid moment or reference to the ones she loves adds dimension to the woman at the top of her game. Her self-described strength is her decisiveness and she's right: The talented people that work for her work for her. If your vision for a spread on pink accessories isn't to her liking, think harder, "thank you."
When Grace Coddington, Vogue's creative director, stands by her convictions, it's with a true sense of artistry and, frankly, she's right, too: her work is flawless. Wintour may shrink down the number of pages devoted to Coddington's lush tableaus featuring 1920s-inspired narratives, but she knows Coddington will watch the progress on the wall mapping out every page in the magazine. They've been working together for two decades and although it's Wintour's magazine, and ultimately her movie, you'd be less inclined to appreciate how she works without the contrast of frazzled, emotional Coddington.