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October 10 2009 7 10 /10 /October /2009 13:49
The September Issue Poster
She's tiny, she's minuscule, and even though she's 50 she looks childish, yet she runs an empire, the empire of fashion. Meet Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine.

Every year in September, Vogue issues the most read, most important, heaviest and biggest magazine on earth (I don't think any other magazine has ever contained 840 pages and weighted 5 pounds, but, hey, I'm not in the journalism business, so I'm just assuming here), presenting the new collections of all those fashion designers you and I keep mocking all year. In the film, we follow key Vogue employees all along the creation of the 2007 September issue.

It's an easy sell but it's not an easy enterprise. I hadn't really thought about it, but magazines, Vogue of course included, actually photograph the new collections themselves, arranging the garments and models in different themes, such as "colour-block" or "the 1920s". And they do shoot stars (or fake stars, like Sienna Miller) in all sorts of places (Paris, Rome...) I always thought those were fake sceneries, not the actual Coliseum for instance.

I loved the film, because it's documentary-like, but not boring, and nor with dramatic off commentaries. I have a thirst for knowledge, so I like documentaries (although not the animal type, I don't know why). I know nothing of fashion, apart form a couple of over-famous creators such as Jean-Paul Gauthier, Louis Vuitton or Chanel, so I'm not sure I appreciated all the clothes displayed (I found most of them very weird, as usual), but I know that when Anna Wintour removed the only shoots they had from the Chanel collection, the brand was in trouble (and so was Vogue... Indeed, nothing from Chanel in their September issue?!)

Anna Wintour

The most fascinating thing, I think, is not all the free clothes and the fact that it does seem to be fun working for a magazine. No, really, the best thing in the movie is Anna Wintour. She dismisses people with a look, she doesn't speak much, she just says "not this picture, no fur, not this dress". Even though most people find her funny because she clearly inspired Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada, I found her most interesting because, to me, she's the human version of the word "unfathomable". She's got all the power at Vogue, and yet she seems to take it hard the fact that her brothers and sister do not understand what she's doing and mock her.

She rules the world indeed, except for when it comes to Grace Coddington, former Vogue model who's been working for US Vogue for the exact same amount of time as Anna. That's more than two decades, and before that they worked both for the British version of Vogue. Grace has enough nerve to stand up for herself and contradict Anna, and she's the only one doing that. Late in the movie Anna confesses that she highly respects Grace because between them two, it is Grace who has the talent. I found that comment quite surprising after having seen Anna get rid of everyone with a blink of an eye for an hour and a half. But Grace really knows what she's doing, and even though their relationship is really tough on Grace, and, I suspect, Anna as well, they work very well together.
Vogue - September issue, 2007

Finale note, the film comes with an amazing soundtrack. I just loved how they put The Cinematic Orchestra - That Home. It is a song I like very much. "To Build A Home" is much more often used, "That Home" being sort of an epilogue to "To Build A Home." And during the movie, I could feel, from the moment the song began, the melody building slowly, and the melancholy it always yields in me, and it gave the already poignant scene a third or fourth dimension that only exists between me and the film.

And there's also this peculiar feeling I experience when a song I know, and not many other people know, is in a movie or a TV show. It's like being member of a secret society of music-knowledgeable people. I'm not saying I'm a music expert, just that I know some songs that are quite unknown of the main public (which is incidentally why I love them), and when it's in a movie, it's like someone somewhere knows that song, too, and put it there just for me to enjoy, because I will appreciate it more than someone who has never heard it before. And yes, I am an egocentric and a selfish person when it comes to music. It's always just between me and the tune; other people can hate the song, or even love it as much as I do, I couldn't care less. 

In short, go see the movie, either because you're a fan of fashion, or, like me, out of curiosity.

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Katrina 10/11/2009 23:26

Yes, this is a fascinating documentary as it shows Anna as being part of a double power house with Grace. She has a canny ability to combine aesthetic and commerce. I was also intrigued by her
fragility.  You're right, her comment re her siblings is poignant and she has a truly professional attitude towards the power she wields.