THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE IS NOT THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (BUT COULD USE MORE DANCERS!)

Over the weekend I went to see The September Issue, the documentary about Anna Wintour and Vogue, focusing on the mag’s — well, the fashion industry’s — most important issue of the year. I found it thoroughly entertaining, but not in the way I expected. I expected it to be a real-life Devil Wears Prada, but it wasn’t that at all. I remember from the book, Lauren¬† Weisberger’s main character constantly feeling like a horrid slob amongst all the fashionistas — or fashionista wannabes — who worked at the magazine, and I remember her even being ridiculed by everyone for wearing Ann Taylor, supposedly a cheap designer.

Of course Devil Wears Prada, the film, played up on all of that, having Meryl Streep lecture Anne Hathaway on her decidedly frumpy wardrobe and call her (a size 6) “fat.” But here, everyone who works at Vogue — particularly Wintour and other higher-ups like creative director Grace Coddington (who is really the emotional centerpiece of the film) are pretty mundanely dressed. They seem more like incredibly hard-working women who are far too busy to care much about how they look everyday at the office. No one wears much makeup, hair looks completely unstyled, Coddington munches on a rather bland-looking corner deli-bought salad while enthusing about the photo-shoots she’s designed and her romantic vision for the issue, talking about her past as a model and how she turned to the editorial side of things early on after a car accident ended her modeling career, and bemoaning the wasted money spent on photo spreads Wintour ended up not liking and axing entirely.

But my biggest surprise was how unattractive I found the models to be. And they weren’t — they were all really beautiful. But I think I’ve seen so much dance now that, as much as I used to admire models, I’m now almost horrified at their bad posture, their boney bodies, their completely uncoordinated frames, their sloppy-looking lines. During a shoot, this one model was playing around and she decided to do a kick — a battement — for the photographer and it was just about the worst kick I’ve ever seen. Her knee was bent awkwardly, her foot was doing nothing at all and gave her leg no line, and she almost fell over. The photographer seemed to think it was great though.

Made me think how much better dancers might be at making the clothes look good. I don’t know, maybe most dancers are too short or the fabric doesn’t drape as well over built musculature as it does over basically skin-covered bone.

This wasn’t the same model from the film — I can’t find a photo of her — but it’s taken from Italian Vogue. I mean the clothes look good — she’s pretty — but look at her lines underneath…

This in contrast to the New York City Ballet dancers, as photographed with this gorgeous flowing diaphanous fabric for NYCB’s Winter season calendar, which I just received in the mail today.

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(There’s another ballerina, to the left, in that first photo, but I’m still pretty amateur at scanning and couldn’t get her in.) Doesn’t say who took the photos but I assume it’s company photographer Paul Kolnik.

5 Comments

  1. You are spot on Tonya. Btw, is it Kathryn Morgan on the next-to-last pic? The calendar photos look amazing!

  2. Thanks Linda — yes, that is Kathryn Morgan!

  3. I love, love, love dancers and they are used by designers more often than you think. Just yesterday, up and coming designer Rachel Atonoff used some NYCB dancers to help show her new line. Generally, all a designer wants is to show off his/her clothes on a long, unbroken frame and that's what models give. It's true that most dancers would be too short and too muscular to allow for the fall of the fabric the way the buyers need to see it. When it comes to fashion spreads it's all about the shot and believe it or not, modeling is a skill that takes genetics and ability. Genetics because the person needs to photogenic (that's why so many models don't appear to be 'all that' in person) and skill because there are angles that need to be known, and how to properly catch the light. etc. So, while I enjoy seeing dancers pop up in fashion shows and layouts, better to leave the full time modeling to the models and the dancing to the dancers, I wouldn't want to lose them!

  4. Thanks Linda — yes, that is Kathryn Morgan!

  5. I love, love, love dancers and they are used by designers more often than you think. Just yesterday, up and coming designer Rachel Atonoff used some NYCB dancers to help show her new line. Generally, all a designer wants is to show off his/her clothes on a long, unbroken frame and that's what models give. It's true that most dancers would be too short and too muscular to allow for the fall of the fabric the way the buyers need to see it. When it comes to fashion spreads it's all about the shot and believe it or not, modeling is a skill that takes genetics and ability. Genetics because the person needs to photogenic (that's why so many models don't appear to be 'all that' in person) and skill because there are angles that need to be known, and how to properly catch the light. etc. So, while I enjoy seeing dancers pop up in fashion shows and layouts, better to leave the full time modeling to the models and the dancing to the dancers, I wouldn't want to lose them!

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