Monday, 7 September 2009


From Prada, to Coco and now Anna. The spotlight on the fashion industry shines on vogue ...

"She's not the perfect manager or editor or mother or sister or daughter."
Documentary maker RJ Cutler is talking about his latest subject, American Vogue's editor Anna Wintour.

"But she is real. And that is what interested me," he adds.

It is a description that may surprise fashion followers, such is Wintour's impenetrable image.

But according to Cutler, the editor was more than willing to allow a camera crew to capture her world in The September Issue.

"When I went to her and said 'I want to make a film about who you are, what you do and how you do it, that's all I am interested in.' She embraced it right away from our very first meeting."
Anna Wintour is in charge - there is no other person who runs an industry quite the way Anna Wintour does." RJ Cutler, director of The September Issue.

Viewers are left in no doubt just how powerful Wintour is in the world of fashion.
In one snippet the boss of an American department store chain asks her to encourage fashion houses to speed up their deliveries. In another, a top label designer looks crestfallen when Wintour appears unimpressed by his latest collection.

"Anna Wintour is a heavy-weight, believe me," says Cutler. "There is a tendency to dismiss fashion as frivolous and light-weight but this is a big business and an important business… and Anna Wintour is in charge - there is no other person who runs an industry quite the way Anna Wintour does."

Material Girl picks up on the current interest of the fashion industry. Cutler and his crew followed the goings on at the magazine's New York office over a seven-month period as staff worked on the production of Vogue's all important September issue.

"When we made this film it was 2007, we were at the height of the boom and in fact this movie tells the story of the single biggest magazine that has ever been published.
"Tens of millions of dollars are at stake in this magazine so everything was thriving."

Fashion fix

Two years on and things are a little different in the magazine industry, explains Mediaweek editor Steve Barrett.

"Like every other area of the advertising industry at the moment it has been a desperate 12 to 18 months, and they are struggling the same as everyone else." However, Mr Barrett says the industry's future is not necessarily bleak. "Everyone is cutting costs across the board and magazines don't get away from that.

"But there is still a great demand for magazines in a recession because people like a little treat."
It is a bit of luxury which is also alluring to other programme makers. A fly-on-the-wall documentary series about fashion magazine Marie Claire, Running in Heels, starts this week on E4.

And in October a fictional magazine features in the BBC One drama Material Girl.
Being Human's Lenora Crichlow stars as a young designer trying to break into the fashion world.
Her on-screen flatmate Alex is played by actor Nick Blood. He believes it is a perfect time for the show to make its debut.

"It can seem a bit ridiculous the amount of money spent on clothes which at the end of the day don't put food on the table. "But I think escapism is what it is about, lifting the doom and gloom."

'Can of worms'

Fashion has already proved a box office pull with hits like 2006's The Devil Wears Prada.
"That probably opened up the fashion world to the public eye" says Blood.

Anna Wintour (right) does not have to scream and shout to make her feelings clear
"Partly because it's seen as something that is not for the general public, something for celebrities and for stick thin models.

"It's a fascinating world and there are these great characters in it. I do think it opened up a whole can of worms."

As for Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada, a suggestion it was based on Anna Wintour is dismissed by RJ Cutler.

"Their offices look alike but Meryl's performance is very theatrical and histrionic.
"She jumps up and down and throws her coat all over the place. Anna Wintour doesn't need to do that.

"She is a very economical with her gestures. It is in the nuance, a glance, but you know how she feels. Everyone around her knows how she feels."

See more on this feature on E24 this weekend, broadcast on the BBC News channel on 1045 and 1745 BST on Saturdays and 1745 and 2145 GMT on Sundays.

The September Issue opens in cinemas on Friday 11 September. Material Girl begins on BBC One in October. Running in Heels begins on E4 on 8 September at 2200 BST

By Alex Stanger Entertainment reporter, BBC News

This photo released by Actual Reality Pictures shows from left to right- Candy Pratts Price,Executive Fashion Editor,; Sally Singer,Fashion News/Features Director, VOGUE; Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief, VOGUE; and Grace Coddington,Creative Director, VOGUE at a fashion show, in "The September Issue", a film by RJ Cutler. [Source: BFS Networks]

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