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Reviewed: The September Issue

"Would you call her the high priestess?" "I'd say the Pope!" declares Style.com's Candy Pratts Price. Without a doubt, Anna Wintour is the most influential woman in fashion, and her magazine Vogue is the barometer of style and society. Every September, fashion magazines the world over publish fall issues that dictate the trends of the coming season and herald a 'new year' in fashion. In The September Issue, director R.J. Cutler is given unlimited access into the Vogue offices as Ms. Wintour and her colleagues put together the 2007 issue, which was to be the biggest issue any magazine ever published.

From New York (where Wintour helps edit Oscar de la Renta's runway collection) to Paris (where YSL designer Stefano Pilati receives unforgiving looks for his colorless and evening dress-free collection), we see the Vogue team bring their issue to life. In one scene--where Ms. Wintour and her colleagues host a retailers breakfast in Paris during the collections--viewers are given a glimpse of the influence they have over the industry. Some may interpret Ms. Wintour's sway over designers as an abuse of power (for example, asking Miuccia Prada to change her fabrics so consumers in warmer climes could purchase them), but really, her sense of practicality in the fashion world, which is so often viewed as out of touch with the everyday, has guided the industry to a certain 'realness'.

Even though critics are quick to point out Grace Coddington, Vogue 's creative director, as the hero in this film, I believe that role truly belongs to Ms. Wintour. Go to the ends of the earth and ask anyone to name a fashion editor, and the response is sure to be the same. Many are oblivious to the actual hard work that goes into producing a magazine; it is not all pretty dresses and champagne lunches. Ms. Coddington's pictures are indeed magical, but a fashion magazine must be more than just photo shoots, no matter how enchanting they may be. The reality of this business relies on the various editorial sections that need to be filled just like any other publication. The decision to kill a shoot is difficult, but it happens in both the documentary and in reality. The images must present a view on fashion that appeals to a modern audience of 13 million readers, while also maintaining the mystique and glamorous aura that surrounds Vogue .

In a nutshell, The September Issue brings to light the tough decisions, hard work and dedication needed to run a publication--a behind-the-scenes view of an aspect of the fashion industry that has never been portrayed. To that end, The September Issue is a must-see, and Ms. Wintour presents a lesson in what efficient managerial skills should resemble.

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