In the wake of Matt Tyrnauer's fresh, fascinating and insightful documentary "Valentino: The Last Emperor," about the legendary fashion designer Valentino and his epic partnership with business genius Giancarlo Giammetti, another creative fashion partnership is on deck for the end of the summer movie season.
A&E IndieFilms, the production group behind "Murderball" and "Jesus Camp," backed director R.J. Cutler as he spent 8 months tailing notorious Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour. "The September Issue" highlights Wintour's crisp, pragmatic edge juxtaposed against her romantic and whimsical creative director, Grace Coddington.
Anna Wintour has been loosely characterized numerous times, perhaps most famously in "The Devil Wears Prada," and hit shows like "Ugly Betty" and "Project Runway" are proof that fashion-based tensions make popular fodder for entertainment.
"Valentino" seems particularly relevant considering the current state of the economy and the unstoppable evolution of the role of luxury, art and high fashion. It's the end of an era. The role of a fashion magazine when publications are folding, the internet is free / up-to-the-second, and the future of newspapers is in question, is worth considering. Valentino is an artist who pours fantasy into the shape of a dress. His pieces are legendary. Wintour is a force, a famously keen curator with solid convictions. Her work seeds the growth of a stylistic movement.
Where Valentino and Giammetti are revealed to be men of not only great talents but dignified, epic characters, living admirably with passion and humour, Wintour is humanized in a different way. We see Coddington fearlessly standing up to her, the mutually respectful relationship also one of creative contention, and the fact that Wintour feeds off it brings out a competitive streak that implies a surprising sense of relatability more than it does the scathing fear we've come to expect from her. Wintour lives and breathes fashion.
Coddington is not just a worthy adversary, but a sort of dessert. In a movie about a hugely powerful, deliberate figure in the fashion world, it's refreshing to find a stubborn, hippie-ish, likeable antagonist who ably fuels the fire.
Opens August 28 in NYC, and September 11 in select cities.