GV has brought in The September Issue, and my first thought: Who else is going to want to watch this besides those crazies working in the glass houses of the fashion and publishing industries? The appeal of this R J Cutler docu would seem painfully narrow. Should someone from the heartlands wander in unsuspectingly, they would be witnessing what? A bunch of crazy old dames behaving very weirdly, and sometimes very badly, indeed.
Much has already been written about The September Issue, starring the top names on the masthead at Vogue, I'll not labour over it, just a few impressions:
1. It's a tightly made docu, and critics have rightly frothed at this fly-on-the-wall look at Vogue's influential doyennes, whose fetishes, whims, and personal rules of style dictate the multibillion-dollar fashion industry. The vignettes are tightly edited to tell a rivetting story, and no scene is wasted: Cutler's work deserves the praise.
2. Grace Coddington's plight feels familiar; We've all had our precious work end up on the cutting room floor, where they cease to exist. If your work isn't out there for the world to see, it may as well be a figment of the imagination. Publication equals validity, and you are only as good as your last published work. Even if you are one of the creators of one of the world's most famous magazines. Nice to know.
3. The most scarey thing about Anna Wintour, besides her gnarled old-man hands is the way she leers and drools at her daughter Bee. Watch out for those scenes: They are easily the most frightening things in the history of cinema.
4. Though on a scale beyond anything in my experience in Singapore, the scenarios ring familiar: Fashion publishing is an exclusive club - Vogue seems to be the model for the way almost all magazines operate.
5. The very nature of publishing is subjective, so every publication has its internal structure of driver and passenger. Always present is the age-old power struggle of art vs. commerce.
6. Andre Leon Talley (the magazine's editor-at-large) is the buffoon I've always thought. That he is reduced in this movie to surreally brilliant scenes is no accident. Mr Cutler needs these comic breaks to complete the picture of what the industry is really like. A few local instances immediatley leap to mind.
7. The Vogue offices are certainly more drab than I expected. The cubicles are indeed grubby and cramped, a far cry from the glossy 'hallways' of the imaginantion. But I goggled at the racks and shelves of samples that stuffed the Vogue rooms. Any magazine would kill to have such access to runway samples - how easy to do a brilliant shoot with all these clothes readily available?
8. Everything in the film serves to make the 68-year-old Grace Coddington look the only real and human person in the industry. I love the way she stomps into the art room to look at the wallpaper of the issue, and I love the way she is large, elegant, and un 'retouched'. Tonne Goodman looks like an over-scrubbed and bitter transexual. Mario Testino just makes you want to roll your eyes untill only the whites are showing, for 15 minutes.
9. I was there at that seminal Dior couture show at Versailles! All those scenes of Paris had me totally nostalgic for that beautiful city, which is the pumping heart of fashion (no, it's not New Yuck okay?, for the final time...) and makes me miss fashion. I regret every single time I bitched about having to go to Paris Fashion Week.
10. Stefano Pilati, Gaultier etc all suck up to Ms Wintour big time. It makes one re-assess their work somewhat doesn't it?