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This afternoon, in the shadow of the Conde Nast Building in Times Square, we entered a screening of the Vogue/Anna Wintour documentary The September Issue, and emerged with the realization that the production of a single issue of Vogue, let alone the September issue, costs more money than we ever imagined.
The release of this film, due for August 28 in New York and September 11 elsewhere, comes at a poignant moment in Vogue's history, what with Wintour's retirement rumors and the dabblings of McKinsey accountants into Vogue's books. We can't help but think that the movie's depictions of costly travel, photo shoots—at one point, Grace Coddington notes that Anna has probably edited out about $50,000 worth of work by removing a few photos from the issue— and parties will hurt them, but we digress. On to the good and gritty details...
The movie opens with Anna, her face free from sunglasses, as she declares her belief that "people are frightened of fashion." It ends similarly, with her asking to no one in particular, "What else?" In between these soliloquies, we are treated to a stream of fashion characters, from designers to celebrities to assistants who all kowtow to Anna's every statement, excepting Grace. The soundtrack plays a Ladytron song during flashes of Fashion Week footage, and our heartbeat quickens with the excitement that Fashion Week elicits; it is a wonderful opening.
Other reviews of the documentary have been correct in saying that Grace Coddington, Creative Director at Vogue and a former Vogue model, is the film's secret star. Her emotional investment in her job leads her to truly live it, and happily she is also the comic relief. In fact, her scenes reveal the most about Anna's personality and tastes—for instance Anna does not approve of the color black in photoshoots. According to Grace, "you can get fired for that." Candy Pratts Price even dubs Anna the "pope" of fashion.
This all happens in the first five minutes of the film, during which time we are also introduced to an apologetic Tom Florio (Vogue's publisher), stylist Robert Verdi and Vogue Editors-at-Large Hamish Bowles and Andre Leon Talley, who is conferring with Vera Wang.
Because we had no idea what we were in for, we took copious notes and have to highlight that almost anyone can see and enjoy this movie. Okay so Grace says "fuck" once, but other than that, bring the family.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the spoilers, thanks again to our obsessive note-taking!