The 2009 documentary, The September Issue, closely followed the American Vogue staff as they produced the 2007 September issue for the magazine. The issue, which was a few months shy of the 2008 Recession, was the largest American Vogue issue in its 121 years of publication, with a total of 727 ad pages.
The film brought to light the delicate push and pull of the Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington’s working relationship as the respective Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director of the magazine. And, more importantly, for fashion outsiders, the film highlighted the significance of the September Issue when Candy Pratts Price rightly proclaimed, “September is the January in fashion,” during one of the earliest scenes of the film.
Since we are currently in the midst of fashion’s world’s new year, I’d like to take a closer look at the covers of not just American Vogue but also Vogue India.
Both covers herald the September issue as the largest and most glamourous issue to date. While Vogue India allows the term “big” to describe the magazine, American Vogue highlights the size of the magazine by making the number of pages, 902, as large as the magazine’s title. Our eyes, in a somewhat text heavy cover, are immediately drawn to the number 902. From there our eyes are drawn up, up and away until making contact with emblazoned, red Vogue. The angle’s of Jennifer Lawrence’s face, her pointed chin, plump lips, angled nose and winged eyes, act as a diagonal line which guides the eye directly from 902 to Vogue and back again.
Both American and Indian Vogue are famous for favoring film stars. This September marks Lawrence’s first Vogue cover whereas Deepika Padukone, a Vogue favorite, has been on the cover more than three times before. For Lawrence’s first Vogue cover her youth and freshness is emphasized to proclaim her naivety and age in the world of Hollywood. Lawrence’s rosy cheeks coupled with doe eyes are set amidst a sea of soft golden and yellow hues and also serve to herald the coming of fall. Meanwhile, Vogue India’s September issue makes no mention of the passing of seasons as India is not at the mercy of four seasons.
Unlike the emphasis of Lawrence’s face which draws us into the young actress and announces her vulnerability; the entire length of Padukone’s body, tall, lithe and long, adorned in pink Marchesa, stands right center on the cover in a position of total power. A lone chair behind her back and surrounded by the muted grey organized, yet opulent chaos, the purple crown adorning her head jumps from the page. The purple crown bears a striking resemblance to the Crown Jewels of England. And, dare I say, the velvet crown atop Padukone’s unruly mane of curls harkens to India’s distance past in the age of British dominated imperial colonization?
Interestingly, both the crown and the word INDIA framed within the O of Vogue are both on the same plane. India and the crown are cast as equals. Meanwhile, Padukone’s steely gaze and firm grip asserts her presence not just on Vogue but in Bollywodo as well. She has no equal in the world of Bollywood and she is also, unlike Lawrence, no longer a new-comer. After all, Vogue has already proclaimed her as Queen.