Monday, 14 December 2009

Issues with The September Issue

Talking to some fashion friends last night, the topic of The September Issue came up and somebody said it was a shame that it didn't have more widespread distribution. I kept quiet, but I have to say I fully understand why the film was given such a limited airing. Once again, it brings home the the stark fact that fashion only really 'works' as a spectator sport, when you are in the audience of a show – and by no means always, even then – or when it is on the glossy page of a magazine, as an image created by a top stylist and photographer – and that is becoming increasingly less frequent as more and more mediocre images are printed in a desperate attempt to keep readers' interest. There are so many desperate fashion magazines now that even students can't get excited over them. Isn't the time fast coming when most fashion magazines could be published every two or three months without causing too much angst for their readers?

We are at the beginning of a revolution. It is already clear that there are too many clothes, too many shows, too many pictures and way too many magazines even for the most dedicated fashionista. Which is why I feel that The September Issue was such a big mistake.

The truth is that it was boring … because putting together a fashion magazine IS boring. Everything moves terribly slowly. The daily dramas are over such trivial matters that nobody but the participants could possibly become emotionally involved with their outcome. Fashionistas flocked to the SI because they wanted to see Anna Wintour put in her place – fat chance! – and the director played into their hands by trying desperately to get something going between her and Grace Coddington over some pictures Wintour decided to drop. Storm in a teacup is the phrase that comes to mind and that is all it was, I'm afraid. No wonder that Sight and Sound, the cineast's bible, called The SI 'a boring film about boring people'.

No wonder it wasn't inflicted on the public at large. Even among fashion folk its appeal could only attract the weaker minded. Just show us the clothes much less frequently and leave it at that. The huge fashion magazine that is over three-quarters devoted to advertising is no great cause for celebration – except to the publishers, of course!


  1. I found the September Issue far from boring but after reading your post, I wonder if this is because I have never been personally subjected to the compilation of a fashion magazine. Maybe if I were more intrenched in the magazine business, I would have found it more banal.

    Not a truer word has been said than these, "The huge fashion magazine that is over three-quarters devoted to advertising is no great cause for celebration – except to the publishers, of course!" Another great post Colin! x

  2. I do rather agree with Random Fashion Coolness; I too enjoyed the SI. As a non-fashion person (albeit with a fierce interest in fashion), I must say the SI wasn't about someone putting Dubya in her place for me. It was rather a fascinating, and in many ways unexpected, glimpse into the intricate facets of the human relationships of three extraordinary people (not just GC and Dubya but also André Leon Talley.

  3. i will grant you it was superficial coverage and far from a genuine documentary but it was very fun dessert, and i would never buy the argument that fun and fluff (ie cotton candy) doesn't have it's place amid competent tiramisu, rich chocolate soufflé and the like as a truly pleasurable indulgence.

    there were redeeming things about the film, things which warrant wide-spread distribution, including the opportunity to watch, and respect and admire, for over an hour, 2 creative, powerful (in mind as well as influence) women who are all good and wrinkled up. this is a rare thing and vogue is the least likely place to promote such role models, but inadvertently it did.
    another added bonus to the film was the public service announcement it provided that vogue is an absolute disappointment of a fashion magazine unworthy of its price. surely the film motivated the spontaneous purchase of
    thousands of issues, by movie-goers, and in contrast to the beauty flaunted on the screen, the real deal feels like an over-stuffed free circular loaded with cheap ads advertising undesirable products which are blatantly allowed to dominate the content and thoroughly over-shadow any of the fashion. the paper is cheap and unworthy of the visions created by the crew, the "advice" is useless and thoroughly corrupted (a fun game is "match the recommended products to their paid sponsors on nearby purchased pages") and the fashion, well, okay, now we're talking boring.

  4. American Vogue is the least interesting of the Vogues. They consistantly make beautiful actresses look like politicians, and turn fashion into a chore.

  5. Indian Vogue is worse- replace Hollywood with Bollywood, it's just US Vogue with brown skin.