"The September Issue"

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

This past weekend I saw The September Issue, the new documentary about Vogue magazine and the infamous Anna Wintour.  It was fascinating.

The film basically follows the process as the Vogue team brainstorms, creates, and assembles their September issue, the biggest one of the year and certainly the most influential factor in fashion.

In true documentary style, it follows a small cast of "characters", really the principles at the magazine, as they go through the trials and tribulations of their craft.

A few observations:

One:  It was fascinating to watch their creative process. It's not all that different from any other creative process, certainly very similar in many ways to creating advertising. It was fun to see concepts get created and then later cut. Compelling to see a photo shoot take a sudden turn of events. And absolutely fascinating to watch people really avoid confrontation on creative issues. Most of the time when Anna Wintour cut a spread from the issue, for example, she didn't do it directly to the person who created it. It was all done through third parties. At least from what I could tell.

Two:  While Anna Wintour's reputation certainly enters the room before she does, I found her to be much more relate-able and real that I have ever heard about her. Sure she's decisive and sure she's impatient, curt, and focused. Maybe even insensitive. But from my vantage point from seeing only this film, my take is that she's a business person with a mission. And she's human. She also compared her work to the work that other members of her family do, which I found to be very honest.

Three:  I was amazed at how much the industry bows to her. I've always heard that, but it was amazing to see it real.

Four:  It was also fascinating to see how non-technical the process is. Sure the photography is done digitally and there is a lot of retouching, but much of the assembly of the magazine is done with white boards, hard copy printouts, scissors, tape, and paste-ups.

The real breakout of the film was Grace Coddington, the Creative Director. She stole the movie. Not only was she in the movie the most (from my memory), but she was also the most interesting to watch. A creative genius at work, yet still humble and real in her own way. I fell in love with her. The scene with her at Versailles was inspiring.

I wouldn't say to rush out to see the movie because it's the most amazing movie I've ever seen or because it's a documentary that changes how you view an important issue. But if you have the chance, it is fun to get a peek into what it's like to work in another profession. And it's fun to see really creative people in action.

Of course at my agency I get to see really creative people in action every day :)

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Jim Joseph September 16, 2009 at 7:07 AM  

As follow up to "The September Issue", I watched the documentary "Lagerfeld Confidential" over the weekend. It chronicles the story of legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Totally different from "The September Issue", but just as interesting. A bit long. But fun to see how this man just doesn't hold many of the conventions that the rest of us do. His creativity has no walls, and he has no boxes to fit in. In his work, in his personal life, in his views. Refreshing. Worth a scan. Jim

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