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‘The September Issue’

Watched “The September Issue” on DVD with my stepdaughter the other night. For anyone not familiar, it’s a documentary that follows the production of one of Vogue’s legendary September issues under the unwavering guidance of editor in chief Anna Wintour.

I’ve been buying and reading Vogue since I was about my stepdaughter’s age — 17. And I always buy and read the hefty September issue. I saved that issue for years — had a collection of about 25 years’ worth of September issues. Eventually, the box got so heavy, and I moved so many times, that I allowed my copies to be tossed into the recycling basket. It pained me — but not as much as moving them pained me!

We both thoroughly enjoyed the movie. And as someone who’s worked on magazines (on a much smaller scale than Vogue) I appreciated it on two levels — as longtime reader and fashion lover, and as someone who’s felt some of the joys and frustrations of print media.

I felt keenly the irritation and sense of loss expressed by Grace Coddington, the creative director, whose beautiful, fanciful, romantic photo shoots often were under threat of being trimmed, rejected, misunderstood. She seemed to feel that time was moving on, times were changing, and she was being left behind.

As a late 40something, I can completely understand. I also admired her willingness to admit that there were times when that was a good thing, and that sometimes Wintour’s understanding of change was dead on, such as Wintour’s decision years ago to start featuring celebrities on the cover some months.

Grace’s exultation when her last-minute photo shoot — including a flash of brilliance involving the documentary cameraman — is a hit with Wintour, brought cheers from us both. We’d been rooting for her all along!

I’m so glad I had the chance to share this film with my stepdaughter. It showed two strong women who each had their own well-informed points of view and opinions based on years of experience. And these two strong women didn’t always agree, and that was OK. They had mutual respect and that was the key.

A great lesson for a 17-year-old. And a lot of other people I know. Myself included.

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