Friday, September 25, 2009

The September Issue

I saw The September Issue yesterday. It was a very good movie; I recommend it for everyone, not just those with an interest in the fashion industry. I will describe my thoughts about the movie in a moment, but first I have some things to say about the experience of seeing it.

The movie is playing at only two theaters in the Twin Cities. I chose the one that is closest to my home. I had never been to that neighborhood before. I knew it is in a more affluent part of town, but I did not know how affluent that area is. I saw some very nice houses on my way to the theater. Like most upper middle class neighborhoods, this one has narrow winding streets with lots of traffic lights and stop signs, so the traffic was horrible. I guess those who own a Lexus, BMW, or other luxury cars prefer to drive slowly so that others may see them and know how successful they are. I felt out of place in my Saturn. Upon finding the theater I learned it is in what seems to be a fashion district. For a three block stretch all the stores seem to be upscale apparel stores, boutiques, and jewelry stores. I got there early so I had time to window shop. I saw a number of pieces I liked, and I got a few ideas for items I want to make. I am not ready to attempt them yet, but I hope to be by the end of this semester.

This week is MNfashion Week. There are many events going on throughout the Twin Cities, and I plan to attend a couple of them. But had I known what event was going on in that neighborhood I would have gone to see the movie a different day. It was "Ladies Night Out." There were 28 people in the audience for the movie, and I was 50% of the audience's male component. Many of the shops on the street were hosting special promotions for women. I am comfortable going into an industry that is predominately female, but last night I felt quite out of place. I need to get over my lingering insecurities or at least plan my outings better.

And now on to my thoughts about the film. I regularly read Vogue and Teen Vogue. Anna Wintour is a god of the fashion world. My teachers will teach me how to design, but she will teach me what to design. And more than anyone else, it is she who decides whose designs will sell. I usually picture Mrs. Wintour sitting quietly in the front row of every fashion show, wearing large sunglasses, and displaying no emotion. It was nice, and hopefully useful, to learn something about her and how she works.

There were two non fashion related topics in the film that I found quite poignant. Every computer shown on screen in the movie was a Mac. Did Macintosh enter into some sort of agreement with the film’s producers, or is Mac the chosen computer of the fashion industry? I own two PCs. UW-Stout provides all its students with a free computer. Most students get PCs, but apparel design students are given Macs. The other non fashion topic was coffee. Mrs. Wintour is often seen with a cup of coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. In a scene in Mrs. Wintour’s kitchen a French press coffee maker can be seen on the counter. I use a French press! The knowledge that Anna Wintour and I share a preference for something, even if that something has nothing at all to do with fashion or apparel, provides me with a boost to my confidence.

I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what goes on behind the scenes at Vogue. For the most part the movie did not disappoint me, but there was one topic I felt deserved a lot more coverage. The September, 2008 issue of Vogue was a record breaking 840 pages, but only 120 of those pages were produced by the staff of Vogue. The remaining 720 pages were advertisements – six pages of ads for each page of content. The movie was about the 120 pages. While I am more interested in what went into those 120 pages, I also wanted to learn the story behind the 720.

Despite that one shortcoming I found the movie fascinating, entertaining, and often humorous. I also found it to be quite scary and intimidating. Tremendous amounts of skill and creativity are required to become a major fashion designer. I hope someday to be good enough, but it is still far too early in my career to know if I have what it takes. In addition to all that skill and creativity, designers require lots of luck to make it big. For every big name designer there are hundreds of unknown designers who are just as creative and skillful but not as lucky. I know I want to work in the apparel/fashion industry, but I have not yet progressed far enough in school to know exactly what I want to do. My schools (MCTC and UW-Stout) offer programs in apparel design, not fashion design. I do not think I want to work in high fashion, but I still dream of having something I designed on the cover of Vogue. Should I plan for a career working for an established design house or apparel company, or do I shoot for the stars? It is too early to tell, but at least I do not yet have to make the decision. Ask me again in three or four years. Hopefully by then I will have a better answer. For now I will just work on improving my skills.

1 comment:

  1. You've aroused my interested in the film. Now I'm planning to see it.