Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get a hold of "The September Issue"

Have you read last Sunday's Radar? I watched The September Issue with my friend Mary Anne and we super loved it! Of course, I wrote about it for The Radar!

Here it is again for your reading pleasure! It's a must see!

NEW YORK — For someone who collects Vogue issues and considers editrix Anna Wintour a fascinating force in fashion, it was a no-brainer.

I had to watch R.J. Cutler’s documentary The September Issue, a fly-on-the-wall take on how Anna Wintour and her team of editors go about creating the September 2007 issue of Vogue.

Last Aug. 28, the first day it showed to the public in New York, I met up with a friend outside Chelsea Clearview Cinema. Just the two of us, along with a hundred or so folks who wanted access inside Vogue’s hallowed halls.

For those who care, the Fall/September issue of any fashion magazine is a big deal. As Style.com’s Candy Pratts Price puts it, “September is the January in fashion.” All the fashion magazines put out a heavyweight September issue, bulging with advertising dollars and of course, the latest fall trends and must-haves. Vogue, as always, is the leader of the pack, busting at the seams with 840 pages for this particular issue, making it the single largest magazine ever published.

As expected, R.J. Cutler, the filmmaker behind the highly acclaimed political documentary The War Room, did not disappoint.

The September Issue is filled with one-liners, snazzy sound bites and quotable quotes while he gives the viewer lots of dishy, insider, behind-the-scenes action and drama. Most importantly, it was as dazzling as it was illuminating. Beyond the glitz and glamour of runway shows, designer-filled racks, and photo shoots that fill a magazine are a sense of mission, tense meetings, and heartbreak. In short, there is a lot of real hard work put into a single issue. As Anna Wintour puts it in the September 2009 issue of Vogue, “Frivolity must have its foundations.”

Some revelations from the documentary:

The September Issue is way better than The Devil Wears Prada.

• Are you expecting to see the fabled Vogue closet filled with designer goodies? Check!

• Fabulous outfits worn by models, celebrities and Vogue staffers? Check!

• Runway shows and cameos by designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Stefano Pilati, Oscar de la Renta, et al? Check!

Let me put it this way, if you think The Devil Wears Prada served up tons of eye candy, then know that the movie pales in comparison to reality. The real Vogue closet is infinitely more fabulous with clothing racks groaning with designer clothing, filling up every nook and cranny of creative director Grace Coddington’s hallway and office. Everywhere you look, you see something you don’t want to miss. In this case, real life closely resembles a fashion fairy tale.

Anna Wintour Is Not Miranda Priestly

It’s no secret. Miranda Priestly’s character was said to have been patterned after Anna Wintour. But, surprise, surprise! “Nuclear Wintour” is actually quite likeable. She shares, almost touchingly, how her siblings who are involved in more “meaningful work” find her job amusing. Fashion-wise, Anna’s classic floral dresses, cardigans and Manolo Blahnik slides are not in any way close to Miranda’s trendy ensembles. Oh, and she does not dump her coat and bag on her assistant’s desk. Undoubtedly, both Miranda and Anna are feared, although there is an obvious respect for Anna.

While Miranda Priestly is curt and way colder, Anna is also not one to mince words. “She looks pregnant,” referring to Jennifer Garner in an A-line shift dress. She tersely tells a frustrated Edward Enninful, while looking at his work, “Where’s the glamour? It’s Vogue, okay? Please, let’s lift it.” When needed, Anna sure knows how to put on the charm.

Anna Wintour Is Fashion’s Fairy Godmother

And Thakoon Panichgul is Cinderella. While he may have compared Anna to Madonna, there’s no denying Anna’s magic wand holds great power. In the documentary, Thakoon’s talent was obviously recognized. Through Anna’s mentoring, he bagged a chance to design shirts for the Gap via his CFDA win, got frontpage coverage in Women’s Wear Daily and a referral to a lucrative consultancy for Spanish clothing chain Mango.

Celebrities Are Human

Sienna Miller, the cover girl for this issue, is a fashion favorite, and a gorgeous celebrity to boot. But I couldn’t help but notice that in her fittings photos, her hair was messy and unkempt, her face, red and blotchy. Adored for both her beauty and style, her test shot for the cover was scrutinized scathingly. She was described as “toothy” and had “unruly hair.” She was also said to have “too many fillings.”

What to do? They made her wear a wig for the shoot, and when that did not help, they pulled her hair back into a ponytail. None of Mario Testino’s shots seemed cover-worthy, so they had to Photoshop her head onto a different photo of her body!

Models Eat

Raquel Zimmermann was eyeing fruit tarts on a tray while being laced up into a tiny corset. Told that the corset wouldn’t fit if she ate one, she exercised great restraint until her shoot ended. Once set free, she ate an entire fruit tart with relish!

Grace Coddington is a scene stealer, André Leon Talley provides comic relief.

And I mean this in a good way. Grace Coddington, a former model who once posed for Lord Snowdon, is a visionaire and the heart and soul of Vogue.

While Anna is decisive, businesslike and the astute brain behind the magazine’s success, it is the sensitive, artistic and passionate Grace who whips out the glamorous, fantasy-like pictorials.

While she creates images spun out of clouds, she has her feet firmly planted on the ground. Level-headed, down to earth and empathetic, she takes up the cudgels of the common folk, fiercely defending the documentary cameraman’s paunch in an inspired last-minute editorial.

AndrĂ© Leon Talley may not have as much screen time, but he cuts an unforgettable figure. Loud, warm and witty, he provides the perfect foil to Anna’s Ice Queen persona. He is amusing when he wails about “the famine of beauty” (which is now a downloadable ring tone, by the way). He is a sight to behold as he plays tennis loaded with Louis Vuitton accoutrements, wearing a vintage diamond-studded Piaget he calls a “tennis watch.”

Bottom Line

I could watch this again and again if only to memorize the film scene by scene. Any viewer will walk into the screening with preconceived notions on fashion and the people who work in it, but will walk away with a greater appreciation for the work poured into a single issue of Vogue. While the documentary does not delve into issues plaguing the industry — and it comes at a time when spending prohibitive sums of money on clothing and accessories is considered unfashionable — it is no doubt entertaining, as fashion is and should be.


kath said...

i really want to watch this! but i'm pretty sure it's not getting a release here in the phil.

RubyG said...

I saw it and Grace is really a genius!!! f

cd_mfo said...

Hi Kath! I think it will be shown in Asian cities, when I find out if it'll be shown there I'll post about it!

She is no?! Creative genius to the highest level! Then again, it is Vogue, haha!

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