I’m probably the last person in the world, well, the fashion world at least, to watch The September Issue. Strangely it had a profound impact on me. I’d read all the reviews about Grace Coddington being the true star to emerge from the documentary and of course I concur…but in a way my heart felt heavy for her. She struck me as a true artist with a beautifully creative eye. The photo-shoots she styled blew me away in their portraiture aesthetic and the care and joviality she exuded on set were truly refreshing. The saddening aspect of the film for me was the realisation that creativity must be curbed to appeal to the average reader and maintain sales figures. I know that in consumer society money drives everything but it was disheartening to actually see that process in motion. Grace understood the need for careful editing and the harnessing of celebrity to boost sales, but its effect seemed to visibly dampen her enthusiasm.
Anna Wintour, on the other hand, seemed to embrace what was required commercially and not let it curb her exacting nature and definitive ideals. The swiftness with which she edited hugely produced photo-shoots was astounding. She knows exactly what sells and is not prepared to compromise in any way, especially for something that only has an aesthetic appeal. It is about the clothes, the advertising, the sales and not necessarily the art. The element of the film that stood out for me was the formidable partnership between Anna and Grace. Their agendas are different but completely the same. Their relationship is a tour de force, offering equilibrium in an industry that is torn between two opposing factors – the beauty of fashion and what actually sells.