A.J. Cutler went where no previous documentary filmmaker has gone before: behind the glass doors of Vogue to see what really working with Anna Wintour is like. The result is a brilliant film that shows the making of Vogue’s annual largest blockbuster: the September Issue, which contains the most ads and pages of all issues in any given year.
Anna at home, talking to AJ Cutler about her life and vision
The documentary focuses on the massive issue of 2007: a whopping 840 pages with 727 pages consisting only of advertisements.
At the Annual Vogue Retail Buyers Breakfast
AJ Cutler follows Wintour and her key staff (Creative Director Grace Coddington; fashion news and features director Sally Singer; and editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley) throughout the creative process and photography of the issue.
One of the “Color Block” spreads styled and directed by Coddington
We see behind the scenes of Anna talking to the camera about her life, her perspectives on fashion, the future of fashion and her biography. We also see her talking with her daughter, Bee Schaeffer, who at one point in the movie shakes her head with a smile and says she would rather go to law school than be an editor at Vogue. At which point Anna gently smiles and says, “Well…there’s still time.”
At Fashion Week
The star of the show was easily Grace Coddington. With frizzy red hair that was clearly as dehydrated as a desert cactus and sheathed in frumpy dark dresses and ugly flats, Grace looks like the very antithesis of what you’d expect a Vogue Creative Director to look like. The entire movie I kept wishing I could send her enormous bottles of hydrating conditioner so she could use some!
Coddington’s unused 1920’s spread that Anna cut from the issue
Coddington styles and directs all the key spreads and her work reminds us of Frederico Fellini‘s baroque and fantasy vision with a strong grounding in reality. She is soft spoken but very stubborn. Most of the fun of the movie was in watching her direct and style these beautiful Color Blocking, 20s and Couture photo shoots with the vision of a Walt Disney. Indeed, if I learned anything from that documentary, it was that Anna’s a damn lucky woman to have Grace on her team.
A “Texture” spread styled and directed by Coddington
The film also addresses (although for not an extended period of time) Andre Leon Talley’s over the top style. One of the funniest bits of the movie was when we see Leon Talley show up for tennis lessons with a huge Louis Vuitton towel draped over his neck!
At a tennis lesson…
Without giving too many secrets away, let’s suffice to say that this is a must see for all people in the industry. It did not delve into the Beauty Department of Vogue as much as I would have liked (in fact, not at all), but it provided some solid color on the myth and mystique behind the “Ice Princess” Wintour.
At the Vogue office
The screening was held at the intimate and charming Screening Room at the Bryant Park Hotel off 6th Avenue. The movie opens in select theatres next week, August 26th.