Members of the press are well aware that if an invitation to a New York film premiere indicates that celebrity arrivals begin at 7 p.m., it usually means that the lead stars of this film will likely arrive at 7:55 p.m. At the Wednesday night premiere of The September Issue at the Museum of Modern Art, the R. J. Cutler documentary about how a September issue of Vogue comes together, the director and the film’s main characters began arriving at 6:45.
Editor Anna Wintour, the movie’s simultaneous heroine and villain, led the procession with actress Sienna Miller, who appears on the titular (2007) issue whose production the movie covers. This, everyone agreed was strange, considering the way Ms. Wintour and her editors brutally critique Ms. Miller’s hair, teeth fillings and neck in the film. (During the cover photo shoot a wig is suggested as a remedy for Ms. Miller’s stringy hair, but is quickly dismissed in favor of a tight bun on top of her head.) But all seemed to be forgotten. Ms. Wintour wore a colorful orange frock; Ms. Miller, a strapless, light blue mini.
Designer Zac Posen shared with reporters a time when Ms. Wintour suggested he take a sleeve off a dress. He resisted, but did it anyway and soon the garment was photographed on actress Debra Messing.
“As a young designer at first and even later there is a great deal of dialogue,” said Mr. Posen. “She has been incredibly integral to my career. It’s important to have a great deal of bravery with her. I think with a good critic or a good editor it’s not about vetoing, it’s about editing.”
But vetoing, of course, sometimes happens. “No more war horses,” Mr. Posen recalled her once saying to him.
The stars of the film seemed to walk the carpet in predetermined pairs. After Ms. Wintour and Ms. Miller came two fiery redheads, creative director Grace Coddington and Mr. Cutler.
“People who work with her said, ‘Wow, you really got her, you really captured her,'” Mr. Cutler told a reporter. He especially enjoyed the part in his film when the editor instructs one of his cameramen to hit the gym. “He’s been at the gym every day since the film premiered Sunday,” Mr. Cutler said.
How did Ms. Coddington, who spent much of the film fighting her editor and sometimes winning, think she came off in the film?
“I hate to say it, but true to life!” she said. “A very annoying person. But it’s not really bickering. It’s a process you have to go through for the job we do and it just makes everything stronger. Whatever gets through is then very valid and very strong. I think they focused on me in the movie because I’m a bit more outspoken and because I don’t care about the cameras, I’ll say whatever I want to say and I won’t hold back.”
The carpet was getting crowded now. Editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley arrived in giant shades and peep-toe purple slippers. Designers Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta walked arm in arm. And Tom Florio, Vogue‘s publisher, scurried around the red carpet saying hellos and glancing at the reporters, seemingly hoping someone would ask him a question. No one seemed interested. When Bee Shaffer, Ms. Wintour’s daughter, walked in a royal blue, belted dress and stood to the side, Mr. Florio put his arm around her.
“It was so embarrassing!” Ms. Shaffer said of her appearance in the film, in which she tells the camera that she has no plans of going into fashion despite the fact that her mother would probably like her to. “It’s funny because that was two years ago and I wanted to go to law school then and that’s basically all I’m talking about and now I don’t want to go to law school at all so …” So she’s decided to join Vogue, then? “No. Still don’t want to work in fashion, that was never a possibility. Now I’d like to work in theater,” she said.
Designer and former Vogue editor Vera Wang told the Transom that the film does not threaten the inherent mystique of the magazine and its editor.
“No one can understand the level of excellence that is demanded of someone who works there,” said Ms. Wang. “Having been there for 17 years, I can’t imagine it’s changed that much.”
By the time Ms. Wintour smiled and laughed her way down the red carpet to where the Transom was patiently waiting for her, she got distracted by an orange-clad Renée Zellweger and designer Marc Jacobs with boyfriend, Lorenzo Martone. Kisses were exchanged all around.
Mr. Jacobs, dressed in all black: dress shirt, skirt, and sparkly black Louis Vuitton shoes, recalled the first time he ran one of his designs up to the Vogue offices.
“I went to see Andre Leon Talley with my clothes and Isabella Blow was his assistant and I took them up there myself and showed him from a garment bag,” he said. “It was exciting.” A leggy model nearly twice Mr. Jacobs’ height caught his attention. “Hiiiii!”
By 7:25 the MoMA lobby was nearly empty. Everyone knows how Ms. Wintour feels about tardiness, except for Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, who was just arriving. A reporter asked the mogul about Ms. Wintour’s status as Queen of Fashion.
“I think Anna is also King!” he replied. Another reporter asked whether Mr. Combs thought he and the editor were somehow similar because they are both Scorpios. “Yes, definitely. We’re both crazy in a positive way. She was the first to take me to the shows in Paris, she’s the one who’s always treated me like a designer and reviewed my collections and told me what was right and what was wrong.”
Mr. Combs looked around and realized that he was late, at which point the mogul sprinted across the lobby and disappeared. His fashionable entourage (two men, one women) ran after him.
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