I’ve been waiting months for The September Issue to arrive at a theater near me. I’ve been so desperate to see this movie I even attempted to Google up a bootleg to no avail. But finally, it arrived, and last night I went to see it with a fellow fashionista and we both agree: it was fantastic.
Before last night, I only had The Devil Wears Prada as a reference for what really goes on in the production of fashion’s annual bible: the September Issue of Vogue. Granted, The Devil Wears Prada is fiction, but it is supposedly based on life behind-the-scenes at U.S. Vogue with editor Anna Wintour. On some levels, I see parallels between The Devil Wears Prada and reality, but mostly, all the hype about Anna Wintour being a total bitch seems erroneous to me. First, she is of British descent, which automatically makes her more reserved than an American. Second, she is not a vociferous woman. She thinks before she speaks, and I gather that she doesn’t always volunteer her full thoughts, which makes her appear aloof and snobbish. Third, she has bosses she has to answer to and a job to do, and she knows what she wants. When men take charge in the same way, they are leaders. When a woman like Anna Wintour refuses to settle for less—after all, Vogue is her baby and her livelihood—she’s a bitch. Unfortunately, that double standard will never go away.
Based on the scenes with Wintour in the movie, I actually found her to be rather polite and justified in the choices she makes and expectations she has. At times in the movie, she actually seems frail and exhausted, as if the necessity of having thick skin has taken its toll on her. It killed me (like it seems to kill her) that her beautiful daughter not only has no interest in editing, but no real interest in fashion, for Wintour would surely have relished grooming her for a future at Vogue (please, Anna, adopt me!). There is one thing that is made abundantly clear, however: the woman is a visionary and she is the single most important figure in fashion. Period.
Who knew that even well-established designers quake with anticipation and fear when she is reviewing their collections? Who knew that it is Wintour and not the designers so much that determine the season’s trends altogether? I always thought she was only responsible for putting the magazine together based on what designers release. But I was wrong. It is she who informs so many of the designers; she decides what will be pushed, which new designers are worth our time, what colors are hot, which new bag will claim It status. Thus, this scene in The Devil Wears Prada rings remarkably true…
Go see this documentary, especially if you’re an avid reader of fashion magazines. It will give you new respect for not only Anna Wintour and Vogue, but the interconnectedness of all of it in our lives.