Movie Review: The September Issue

Crack, thy name is The September Issue.

When I got an e-mail offering a copy of the documentary for review and a phone interview with the filmmaker, I was beside myself. I had read about The September Issue when it came out in theaters a few months ago and couldn't wait to see it.


Essentially, the movie takes you behind the scenes as Vogue staffers put together the 2007 September issue of the magazine, which came out just before the recession and was the largest issue of Vogue in the magazine's history. R.J. Cutler (producer of The War Room) had unprecedented access over a 7 month period to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (rumored to be the inspiration for Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada) as well as Andre Leon Talley and artistic director Grace Coddington. The results are, in short, fascinating. I absolutely devoured this movie and if you are the slightest bit interested in fashion, you will, too.

On the phone yesterday, R.J. Cutler told me and a group of other bloggers that he realized very quickly this movie would have to be shot differently from his prior documentaries.

"Communication would take place in gestures, glances, and nuances," he explained. "It didn't seem like much communicating was done, but the issue came out month after month after month." Consequently, the movie is shot with particular attention to facial expressions and movement. Anna Wintour didn't always have a whole lot to say in certain scenes, but her face and body language spoke volumes- and the cinematographers did a fantastic job of catching those moments.

The central drama of the documentary revolves around the constant push-pull between Coddington and Wintour, who are, as Cutler put it, "Art and commerce. Fire and ice." Though the two are seemingly always at odds, we learn by the end of the film that their relationship is far more symbiotic than it would initially appear. We also learn that there is far more to Wintour than meets the eye. One watches the film expecting to hate her. Instead, we understand her, we feel we might know why she is the way she is, and we even feel a little sorry for her.

The new DVD of the film contains a full disc of extra features, including more than 20 additional deleted scenes and over an hour of extra footage. The scenes feature more with Wintour, Coddington, and Talley, as well as designers John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Thakoon, and Vera Wang.

This documentary gave me an excellent education in fashion behind the scenes, and how clothing goes from the designer's mind to the magazines and runways and on to the stores. If you're a reader this blog, I know you'd love it. The September Issue will be released on February 23rd, but you can preorder a copy from Amazon today for $19.99.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this movie for review and am a compensated Amazon affiliate.

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