As Vogue magazinE Editor for 20 years, Anna Wintour believes that most of the public doesn't understand and is frightened by fashion. And many members of the public believe that the people in the fashion industry are frightened by her. R.J. Cutler's documentary The September Issue doesn't dispel or confirm this. Instead, it follows the process of putting together the largest issue in Vogue's history from September 2007. In the nine months Cutler follows Wintour and her staff, he gets closer to the fashion queen than anyone thought was possible.
Cinéma-vérité veteran Cutler and his camera step into the action at the magazine's headquarters, capturing meetings and tense private discussions. They roam the halls, focusing on amazing racks of designer clothing and employees who sport the European look of less makeup and natural hair pulled back. He also catches intimate moments featuring Wintour's modestly decorated Manhattan home, Wintour with daughter Bee at their Long Island country home paging through past September issues, photos of a younger Wintour with her father Charles, also a career editor, who didn't always take her foray into fashion seriously.
When Grace Coddington, Vogue's creative director, stands by her convictions, it's with a sense of artistry, and she's right: Her work is flawless. They've been working together for two decades, and although it's Wintour's magazine — and her movie — the contrast with the frazzled, emotional Coddington makes you appreciate more how she works.