The film revolves around the making of the Vogue (The Bible of the Fashion World) September 2007 issue, the issue that 1 in 10 American women, 13,000,000 people, will get. It is the advertising edition that is the size of a phone book and will push the sales of the big stores of NYC. September is the January of fashion, when you change your look, when you reinvent your wardrobe akin to New Years resolutions. Here the creative bodies at Vogue have seen all the lines from all the designers and must decide what trends to promote. It is this edition that sets the world of fashion alight. And at the centre of it all, is the Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour.
Anna Wintour, the very English daughter of an Evening Standard editor, sees herself as director and producer of this fashion world. Is there any part of the fashion industry she isn’t involved in, one of her staff is asked, to which the answer is NO. And it is true. There is a scene at New York Fashion Week where all the models of the Vera Wang show are backstage and people are asking, is she here yet? Meaning, is Anna here yet? And when they find out she is, then they can go-go! She is the most important figure in the $300BN global fashion industry.
And this becomes apparent at the buyers breakfast, where Anna and her team talk to the shop owners, such as the owner of Neiman Marcus, to tell them what they are going to be putting into the issues. “If we get behind something it sells.” So much so that they tell the sellers that they are going to be putting a lot of jackets into the Fall editions and that, on top of that, they asked Prada to change the fabric of their jacket, as it was too heavy (wool and mohair) and more Winter like, to make them more accessible for the Autumn season (silk and mohair). The phrase they use “the jacket is the new coat.”
Anna tells Oscar De La Renta what to put in his show. You see her unimpressed with the next YSL collection for Autumn/Winter 2007 as there is no colour, it is all grey, with a hint of dark blue and one item with green. She is not happy at all. Clearly she wants colour. So much so that there is a little scene between Creative Director Grace Coddington and another creative type (Edward) that runs like this…
GRACE CODDINGTON (holding a leather jacket) I wonder if Anna would like this one.
EDWARD It’s black.
EDWARD You’d get fired for that.
And this is the story of the September Edition, starting six months ahead of the closing date, the staff need to bring Anna Wintour stories, they need to show her every single item of clothing for every photo shoot while the advertising staff sell all the ad space they can. And she does wield supreme power. I look at it like this…
“If 13 Million women will buy clothes based
on the September edition of Vogue, and
if Anna Wintour decides at every level
what goes into the magazine, Anna
Wintour does indeed dictate the entire
fashion industry and therefore must be
THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD OF
And the staff take it on the chin, despite their whining, because they have to. A lot of people come and go from Vogue, because they can’t take the heartbreak. The heartbreak being Anna Wintour verbally beating them up and destroying their confidence. But she is not doing it maliciously. She clearly just lives for the job and never lets her guard down. She is the basis of the Meryl Streep character in The Devil Wears Prada with Grace being the only one who stands up to her. Charlie Churchward is clearly a yes man. He agrees with everything Anna says.
Grace is the creator. She gets the best out of the models and the photographers. It is her composition ideas. And it is her idea, based on John Galliano, that becomes the 1920s, that becomes the main shoot and her pet project for the edition despite Anna killing the photos and everyone pandering to her over Grace. So part of the story, along with her managing Sienna Miller’s shoot around Rome, is Grace trying to get her ideas into the book that Captain Wintour.
Grace despondently, after being lied to by Charlie Churchman. “I care very much about what I do, I do or I wouldn’t still be doing it, but it gets harder and harder to see things thrown out. And it is very hard to go onto the next thing.”
And I guess that is what most people take from the documentary, as they head to Couture shows and have all the lackies noting furiously as AW watches on from behind sunglasses. This is an ego trip. She beats people down but not for the sake of it, for what she thinks is right and you, as a viewer, are against her, because Grace and Edward and the others seem such nice and normal people, that you want their ideas to be taken seriously and put forward for the edition, and hate to see their work rubbished so sharply. You see Grace almost in tears over having more and more of her 1920s shoot binned, and you want Anna to see sense. But in the end, who really is the face of Vogue, who is the most powerful woman in the world of fashion today?
I highly recommend this movie. It was well put together and paced hence the awards and nominations. It was good to see something from the other side of the fashion sphere. And it was eye opening, after watching the Lagerfeld and McQueen and Valentino documentaries, to see someone that they would bow down to, as it would be her say so that could change their collections entirely.
You can pay to see this documentary, it is available for down for £2.99 on YouTube, but someone put it up for free here and it is must watch for all you fashionistas out there.