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Sept. 14, 2009

Fashion is no folly in "The September Issue"

by Larisa Antonisse, Page Editor
Viewers will no longer mock those involved in the fashion industry after watching "The September Issue," a new documentary release which provides a comical, yet informative look into the production of Vogue Magazine's largest issue of the year.

The September Issue

(released September 11, 2009)
Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour surveys the runway  for note-worthy designs. <i>Photo courtesy of</i>
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Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour surveys the runway for note-worthy designs. Photo courtesy of
Every year Vogue produces a fall September issue which shows the designs and designers that are expected to be the most prominent in the coming year. Vogue is the most powerful and respected magazine in fashion, merchandising and retail activity on a global scale. The 2007 fall issue - the one produced in the movie - weighs over four pounds and sold over 13 million copies, giving it seemingly unlimited power over the $300 million industry.

The film is a unique, unprecedented exploration of the influence of Vogue's Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour over the entire fashion world. Critical and unforgiving in nature, Wintour is widely believed to have inspired the character Miranda Priestly in the popular book-turned-movie "The Devil Wears Prada."

Wintour has complete management of what elements are worthy of inclusion in the world-renown magazine. She decides for the fashion-conscious communities of the world what is "in" and what is "out" in terms of fashion trends. "Fashion's not about looking back, it's always about looking forward," Wintour says. And colleagues of Wintour, who are, in her opinion, not progressive enough, get their work cut from the magazine.

Even Wintour's longtime co-worker, Creative Director Grace Coddington, is not exempt from her harsh criticisms and editing. Having started work at Vogue with Wintour in 1988, Grace, a former model, is an expert at designing and executing beautiful photo shoots. Yet she often becomes frustrated when her work is discarded from the magazine by Wintour, without much justification other than that Anna's style preferences override hers. It is inspiring to watch how Grace’s passion for the fashion industry and belief in the beauty of her work is so immense that she forces herself to keep working despite the rejection her work consistently faces.

It takes a special kind of person to work in this extremely competitive business, and as shown in the movie, fashion isn’t tailor-made for everyone. The distinctive personalities found only in the fashion industry, such as the hilariously flamboyant Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley, are part of the movie's charm. However Wintour's daughter, Bee Shaffer, says that even though she respects her mother's work, she would never want to work in fashion. Aspiring to become a lawyer, Shaffer says, "People in [the fashion industry] act like fashion is life…there are other things out there."

The documentary is beautifully crafted by director RJ Cutler. By incorporating behind the scenes looks at fashion week in New York City and photo shoots in Rome, Paris and London, as well as interspersed images of scintillating scenery in these cities, Cutler gives even novice viewers a real idea of Vogue's far-reaching influence.

While fashion may be taken a bit too seriously at times, no one can dispute the fact that working in the fashion industry is not just a leisure trade. Everyone, even those not interested in fashion, can adhere to the film’s gloss, as it is about more than just clothing; it is about the dedication and vivacity required for people who want to reach their goals and influence cultures around the world.

"The September Issue" (90 minutes) is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

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