“September is the January of fashion... this is when I change, this is when I’m going to try and get back into high heels, cos that’s the look,” so says Candy Pratts Price during the filming of ‘The September Issue’ back in 2007.
Any follower of fashion knows that the September issue is THE issue to read, whether you choose Vogue, Harpers or Elle. But there is something about Vogue, here in the UK, and further afield, that gets readers especially excited. Well, they do say that it is the Bible of the fashion industry...
This year’s British Vogue September issue is Edward Enninful’s first as editor-in-chief, following on from the departure of Alexandra Shulman after 25 years service, and seen, by many, as an inspired choice. Rewind a decade and just a few minutes into ‘The September Issue’, a younger-looking Enninful anxiously speaks into a mobile phone. Glasses perched, he can be heard saying “There’s a bit of a crisis, Anna saw the pictures and she doesn’t want Chanel or Hilary.” [Puts phone down]. “So I think we’re done with Hilary and Chanel...”
Ten minutes later and that anxiety has amplified into a, “I wanna kill myself. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore”. For anyone working in a fast-paced environment, be it the fashion industry or not, these exaggerated phrases aren’t uncommon. We just all need our own Grace Coddington to step in and offer some advice. “You’ve got to be tougher, you’ve got to demand, otherwise you’ll be blamed, don’t be too nice...otherwise you’ll lose”. Sound advice for all.
But just why is the September issue so imperative to the world of fashion? Although print revenues have decreased in the last decade, type in ‘fashion September issue’ into Google and immediate responses include online publications writing articles about this particular issue, when other issues never get the same publicity.
September brings a ‘back-to-school’ feeling and a shift in seasons, from Spring / Summer to Autumn / Winter, signalling that it’s time to shop for new outfits. This gives editors and fashion directors more scope and fashion shoots and editorials triple in size. Readers are then encouraged to ‘re-invent’ themselves for the coming months. This sort of influence means that the September issue is always the biggest, as more advertisers vie for space. But fancy adverts and great photographs will only be viewed if the front cover grabs your attention. Therefore, even more consideration is put into attaining the perfect cover star for this than any other issue, someone who has a certain star quality, recognisable to many (or if you’re Beyoncé, who is currently coveting American Vogue’s September issue, then you’re recognisable to every man and his dog).
But back to Enninful’s first September cover. The film highlights the importance of celebrity culture within fashion, and Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, was one of the earliest to recognise this trend. And with Rihanna as the face of British Vogue’s latest issue, this trend shows no signs of dying away. Two covers are on sale and, interestingly, both have a floral theme. Who remembers Miranda Priestly’s famous quote, “Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking!” in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’? Well, the September Issue isn’t Spring; it’s Autumn, so I guess it kind of is groundbreaking!
More importantly, though, and the reason that I purchased the front cover where Rihanna’s face is more visible, are her rake thin eyebrows. It is such a simple thing to do and yet everyone is talking about it. There are those excited for a change from the thick eyebrows they’ve struggled to grow back since their days of thinner eyebrows. And then, of course, there are those lamenting the possible return of thin eyebrows when they’ve only just grown theirs back to full, thick bushyness! In the film, when Enninful was Contributing Fashion Editor at American Vogue, Wintour kills his colour-block story choosing Coddington to re-shoot it. Yet, here he is potentially redefining the way we look.
The September issue always has a habit of reinvigorating people’s love for fashion. Dreamlike photoshoots, hard-hitting features and revealing interviews make for a bigger and better show of fashion. But a front cover needs to engage and get people talking. That’s why I’m obsessed with this issue. And more excited than ever by Enninful’s appointment.
It is easy to see why Alexandra Shulman chose to finish her editorship at British Vogue with 2017’s September issue. It creates a more memorable end. But, disregarding content, one front cover (Shulman’s) speaks of the past; the other (Enninful’s) speaks of the future. And that’s what fashion is all about and what the September issue often does so beautifully, it looks forward.
I’ll leave you with a little bit more sound advice from Grace Coddington, a genius according to Wintour, given to her by the famous photographer Norman Parkinson;
“Always keep your eyes open, never go to sleep in the car, or anything like that, keep watching, because whatever you see out of the window or wherever, it can inspire you.”
Take note and create your own September beginnings.
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.