Due to a lack of money, a lack of time, a lack of people to impress and a lack of a body that someone would want to make clothes for, I have little interest in what is fashionable. I dress in pretty much the same way I did when I was 14 and I think I still have some of the same socks. As a result, you might expect me to have little interest in R. J. Cutler’s documentary about the construction of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine. Well, you might very well expect that, but you would be utterly wrong. It is precisely because I have no interest in what is fashionable that I find the world of fashion so profoundly compelling. Films about the fashion industry are explorations of another culture completely different to my own. A culture with a good deal of impact upon the world that we all inhabit. Because of its power and the strangeness of its people and institutions, the fashion industry is a fascinating subject for a film. Regardless of whether it is explored through mockery (as with Robert Altman’s 1994 Pret-a-Porter), hagiography (as with Rodolphe Marconi’s 1997 Lagerfeld Confidential) or thinly veiled contempt (as with David Frankel’s 2006 The Devil Wears Prada).
R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue approaches the subject with a mixture of awe and mockery but, despite some initial setbacks, the film provides some genuine insight into how it is that the world of fashion functions and why it is that it has so much power over our society.