The September Issue (released last August) is a documentary about how the most important fashion magazine of the year is created. It features Ana Wintour, the intimidating and ruthless Editor-In-Chief of US Vogue and her team of editors. It positions Ana as the ultimate decision-maker in the fashion world, showing luxury houses like Chanel, YSL and Givenchy trying to please her like little children craving for mom’s affection.
It was an interesting documentary that showed how much work and conflict goes into producing the biggest issue in Vogue’s 117-year old history. If Ana is the lead actress then Grace Coddington, a former model and now Vogue Creative Director, is the supporting actress. She does the brunt of the dirty work, thinking up concepts, producing fashion shoots, and even dressing the models herself. She claims to be old-fashioned and romantic which is an amazing contrast to Wintour’s pragmatic, cold, and never-look-back attitude towards fashion. Somehow, after 20 years in each other’s hair, these two have learned how to work with each other in producing issue after wonderful issue of Vogue magazine.
I guess the biggest question here is: does fashion matter? Isn’t it frivolous, shallow, and a generally useless occupation? Sure it’s a multi-million dollar industry, providing thousands of jobs to people all over the world. But should we take it seriously?
Look at this photo:
An editorial called Paris Je T’aime from the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine
It captures the essence of the flapper era. It was a time when women were finally granted the right to vote in the United States. They had a new sense of freedom not only in political affairs but also with their bodies. Women started smoking in public, wearing pants, having sex casually, and generally treating established customs and traditions governing them with disdain. The 1920’s was a turbulent decade that became an important turning point in US “herstory”.
Now, don’t you think capturing that era in clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup is a pretty amazing AND relevant feat? The fashion of the times reflects the changes, the evolution of a particular society. It is the physical embodiment of ideas, feelings, and morals of the times. Some people tell us what they think by writing a poem, composing or singing a song, directing a film, or taking a photograph. Others, like Ana Wintour and Grace Coddington, tell us through clothes, shoes, and makeup.
Fashion is an art, an art as serious, insightful, and relevant as any other.