Documentaries, by and large, are vehicles that take the ordinary individual into another realm. They are ways to help us see another story, to help us walk the proverbial mile in another's shoes. They are lives on film.
The September Issue follows Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue fashion magazine, as she and the magazine prepare for what is the largest issue that Vogue publishes all year. It sets the standard for the season. Most September issues since Wintour became editor have been longer than 800 pages. If you have seen The Devil Wears Prada, you might be aware that Meryl Streep's character Miranda Priestly is supposedly based off of Wintour. She is referred to as an "ice woman" who is blunt and unfeeling towards the people who work under her. People defend her by saying that she's not here to make friends but to run a magazine and some would even claim that she is the most powerful woman out there.
Most of this documentary seems to shows Wintour with her arms crossed making decisions that her editors blindly follow. They might not like it, but they would do it because they do not want to loose their jobs. After all, Vogue is Wintour's magazine. Former model and fashion director Grace Coddington is one of the only people in the company that appears to stand up for herself and her work but she is again and again shot down. She becomes disheartened and that in itself is hard to watch.
There was nothing about this documentary that was particularly exceptional. It showed no depth, no real emotion. There was no passion behind it at all. People in this film love fashion but the question of why they love this calamitous field so much was never addressed. There was such an opportunity with this film to fully examine the aesthetics of fashion but it was not really touched upon. We do not even really see Wintour's side as to why she loves fashion so much. Yes, her father was an editor of a London newspaper and he encouraged her, but why fashion? It was interesting to see the inside workings of Vogue but there was nothing so superb about it that it merits viewing for that reason alone. To watch Wintour wear her sunglasses inside made me wonder whether there was an epidemic of blindness going about the fashion world. The pretentiousness did not stop there either. I tried so very hard to care but in reality, one in ten women in America may buy the Vogue September issue but how many of those women can afford to buy the clothes within it? There was a good point brought up in this film. Wintour decides what fashion goes into the magazine, everything from evening wear to accessories, yet she herself does not carry a handbag.
Fashion is art. There can be no denying that. There's beauty in a way a dress hangs or the way a shirt falls on someone. There's life in color, texture, and design. But this movie begs the question, what life can come from being centered on a world that is about what you take and on off everyday and when trends are as fleeting as the seasons? This documentary had so much opportunity to show Americans another side of an industry and it missed it.