The September Issue is the critical edition of the fashion glossy, aimed at taking full advantage of the approaching season. RJ Cutler's documentary follows rag trade empress Anna "Nuclear" Wintour - the glacial editor-in-chief of Vogue and Meryl Streep's inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada. Cameras track Wintour as she prepares the 2007 September issue for publication, terrifying underlings and battling with an obstinate creative director, looking good throughout.
Anna Wintour claims the public ridicules fashion because they feel excluded. While audiences may not feel any less excluded by the time the end credits roll (those designer frocks will still cost the earth), The September Issue is a better than could be expected peek into an almost alien world.
A jet-setting world populated by rangy, glass-eyed models, beautiful, but blandly so as not to upstage the dresses. An unreal landscape where fashionistas can say, "This year has seen a famine of beauty", or, "Is there a way to wear fur this winter?" and not receive two taps to the chest, one to the head at close range, execution style.
At the centre of it all, like a frozen sun paradoxically sustaining life, is Wintour. Shrewd, expert, and inscrutable, she is a silent hawk rather than Meryl Streep's snarling Devil Wears Prada tiger, only revealing chinks in her armour when discussing the worthier pursuits of her siblings or when her daughter rejects the idea of following in mum's heeled footsteps.
More a personality documentary, The September Issue becomes a two-hander between the hard-nosed Wintour and Grace Coddington, the artsy creative director.
Both are British, both modelled, both started working for American Vogue the same day. But, Wintour is the brain and mouth, and Coddington the heart, her passion as fiery as her mane of red hair. The best moments come when the two passive-aggressively snipe at one another over which shoots make the mag and which don't.
Photographer Mario Testino and designer Jean-Paul Gaultier populate the background, plus the flamboyant editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, a man who puts together a wardrobe for the tennis court.
Intimate knowledge of designer threads is not essential, and although this won't make you rush out and grab the latest Vogue, it does shake its little tush on the catwalk in a surprisingly agreeable way.