The September Issue (2009); Directed By: R.J. Cutler; Starring: Anna Wintour


By: Elizabeth Hagele, Lindsay Geier and Waverly Hurd

October 11, 2016

The September Issue is a documentary on the fabulous, Anna Wintour. Anna obtained the reputation of being one of the most talented editor-in-chiefs for the most respected and influential magazines of the world. The work she has done for Vogue magazine helps influence fashionistas every day. Her journalist even described her as, “the most powerful woman in the United States.” Her utmost responsibility and duty to society is to create content geared toward the mass fashion world. Wintour is known for having a very aggressive personality, but she uses this to dictate what is considered to be “in-style” each season. This documentary follows her staff as they prepare to release their most important Vogue issue of the year, The September Issue. Wintour additionally analyzes every detail of each photo her staff takes, and the advertisements allowed to go into the issue targeting specific niche markets.

According to Baran, a niche market is, “aiming media content or consumer products at smaller, more demographically, homogenous audiences” (Baran, 37). When 1 in 10 women will buy a copy of Vogue, it’s important that the messages and illustrations conveyed within the magazine properly influence and affect the minds of their consumers. As Tom Florio, the publisher of Vogue states, “Nobody was wearing fur until Anna put it back on the cover of Vogue, back in the early 90s. And she ignited the entire industry. If we get behind something, it sells” (The September Issue, 9:25) In the text, Baran explores the idea of agenda setting, which proposes ideas to the consumers on what to think about (Baran, 93). Anna Wintour is a trendsetter and her biggest contribution to Vogue and the fashion industry was fur. The content within this magazine affects the audience, as it gives specific trends and clothing meaning. Wintour and the Vogue magazine editors have the power to set our fashion trends, including the fashion for younger generations. the_september_issue_2009_1280x720_871558

They have this power because they are responsible for choosing what goes into the magazine. The images that are displayed throughout the magazine are known for influencing its viewers to buy certain products over others. Due to her total power, she has become the gatekeeper of the fashion industry, ultimately allowing her to decide what is ‘in’ or ‘out.’ The concept of gatekeeping refers to “the process in which information is filtered, disseminated, whether for publication or broadcasting” (Wikipedia). In the documentary, Anna exemplifies being a gatekeeper as she is giving feedback in regards to Grace’s 1920’s photograph shoot. When faced with Grace’s favorite photograph that was taken, Anna says to her editor, “this one is… unnecessary, don’t you think” (The September Issue, 41:00) and immediately removes it from the collection eliminating any chance it has being in the September Issue. Throughout the documentary we see Anna constantly dictating what goes into the magazine, which by transgression influences what the American society deems as fashionable and “in style.”

Through the use of correct product positioning, which is “the practice in advertising of assigning meaning to a product based on who buys the product rather than on the product itself” (Baran, 337), Vogue is able to sell a lifestyle that we as consumers gear to strive for. Although, the Vogue lifestyle is targeted towards the elites as the products are of great sum, the magazine ultimately influences other magazines including Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Glamour, which provide their audience with affordable products that resemble items in Vogue. Wintour is able to target mass audiences through subscriptions of Vogue and also through pass-along readership. According to Baran, pass-along readership is the, “measurement of publication readers who neither subscribe nor buy single copies but who borrow a copy or read one in a doctor’s office or library” (Baran, 78).rs_600x600-130821090212-600-anna-jl-082113 Anna Wintour’s influence in Vogue has socially constructed the fashion industry and dictated many citizens’ thoughts, feelings, and daily actions without individuals even being consciously aware of her power.