I was browsing Netflix a few days ago, and while I wasn’t necessarily looking for anything, I came across The September Issue. Now, I’ve actually seen it once before, when I studied Media AS a few years ago during our magazine/publishing industry module. We saw the documentary but at that time I wasn’t into fashion the way I am now and unfortunately didn’t took much notice of it. By re-watching it again a few years after and in the middle of first year at university, I appropriate it a lot more now and saw it in a different light indeed.
I admit I never really was a big fan of Vogue, not then and not now. I much prefer other mainstream magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. Yes. I love mainstream ones. I know this course encourages us to read and branch out to smaller, indie publications but honestly, I haven’t came across one that first – I actually like, and second, I’d actually buy. I went to the very first Raw Print event (in October?) and while it was interesting (albeit not my taste), no way would I spend about £10 or £12 for a magazine.
Anyway, back to the topic.
The September Issue remains to be one of the best documentaries of fashion, in my opinion. With Vogue and fashion being regarded as unattainable or inaccessible, this behind the scenes documentary really gives people an idea on how the industry and magazine co-operates.The meetings, the discussions, the scenes where Anna was choosing which ones ultimately make the issue, all of it just fascinates me.
“I think what I often see is that people are frightened of fashion and that because it scares them or it makes them feel insecure, they put it down. On the whole, people that say demeaning things about our world, I think that’s usually because they feel in some ways excluded or, you know, not part of the ‘cool group’ so as a result they just mock it. Just because you like to put on a beautiful Carolina Herrera dress or, I don’t know, a pair of J Brand blue jeans instead of something basic from K-Mart it doesn’t mean that you’re a dumb person. There is something about fashion that can make people very nervous.” – Anna Wintour
(I like this quote from Anna’s interview in one of the opening scenes)
I love that Vogue agreed for cameras to film them working on the biggest issue of the year, September (as you probably guessed!). Maybe one of the reasons is to kill the rumour/reports that the film (2006) and book (2003) The Devil Wears Prada was based on Anna Wintour and one of her former assistants. I found Anna Wintour a bit boring and lackluster in personality. If you compare Anna’s appearance here, and Miranda Priestly, you have to ask; is she really like that, or did she conceal parts of her personality? Granted, the character of Miranda Priestly was probably exaggerated a lot for entertainment purposes but Anna here was more aloof and just didn’t really stand out to me.
One talented person stood out to me though and that was Grace Coddington, the stylist and creative director of the magazine. I think this documentary unintentionally turned the spotlight on Grace. She was a crazy talented individual and came across really lovely and passionate about her work. She was heavily involved in the styling and production of the issue but doesn’t get enough credit for her art and work. She was an unexpected surprise. Her relationship with Anna was very interesting, too. The disagreements between them and the fact that Grace was the only one who dared to stand up to Anna.
R J Cutler, director of The September Issue said, “Every billboard, fashion magazine spread, every advertisement we see today has been influenced by Grace Coddington.”
While I find Anna a tad overrated, one of the scenes that showed how powerful and influential she is was when she singled out Thakoon, a Thai-American designer and as a result, he produced a fashion line for The Gap and gained him world-wide press and recognition.
Even after I lost respect for Anna and the publication after featuring Kim and Kanye on the April 2014 US Vogue cover (yuck), I think this is one of the of those fashion films/documentaries that I can watch over and over again. I enjoyed watching the process and how they conceptualize shoots for the spreads. It even featured Mario Testino, one of the most famous and high profile photographers around today.
So that’s just a few thoughts upon watching The September Issue again. It woke my passion for publishing and the editorial aspect again, as currently I’ve been more focused on brands (due to the fact that I’ve just finished a brand analysis presentation last week) but this just reminded me for my love of magazines in general. Some of my career inspirations include being a creative director, a graphic designer for a fashion magazine or work as PR girl in publications.