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VOGUE ON FILM — AT LAST: Filmmaker R.J. Cutler may not have intended his film about Vogue, “The September Issue,” to chronicle the last hurrah of the luxury boom, but as it turns out, his eight months of inside access to Anna Wintour and her team as they prepared Vogue’s biggest issue ever, September 2007, came just before the economy (and the magazine industry’s ad pages) took a nosedive. The film, which draws from 300 hours of footage, screens at Sundance this weekend, and Wintour will attend the premiere. “I’m thrilled she’s supporting the film, which is a reflection of how she feels about it,” Cutler told WWD.
Cutler has said it was Wintour’s idea to frame the film around the creation of the September issue, and that he had final cut over the footage. “My observation with the creativity in the hallways and offices is that Vogue is like the mist. You don’t think it’s raining and all of a sudden you’re soaking wet,” Cutler said.
This story first appeared in the January 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In addition to exploring Vogue’s work process, “The September Issue” delves into Wintour’s relationships with her late father, legendary British newspaper editor Charles Wintour, and daughter Bee Shaffer, as well as with creative director Grace Coddington. Cutler said Coddington was particularly resistant to the camera crews at first. “She couldn’t throw us out of the building because she’s not the boss,” he recalled. “Anna’s the boss and she had invited us in. But she was unhappy to see us. And when Grace is unhappy to see you, that’s not the place anyone wants to be. God bless her, she [eventually] gave us a chance.”
Thakoon Panichgul has a particularly prominent role, and there are appearances by Oscar de la Renta, Patrick Demarchelier, Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquière, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stefano Pilati, Phillip Lim and Isabel Toledo, among others.
There is a moment in the film when Wintour contemplates the end of her career, the subject of more than one recent — and oft-denied — rumor. Cutler was cagey: “I have to let the film speak for itself on that.”
— Irin Carmon
FADE TO BLACK: It looks like Judy Licht won’t be giving Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren or any other designer some face time at next month’s New York Fashion Week. Rainbow Media Holdings, a Cablevision subsidiary, has pulled the plug on “Full Frontal Fashion.” The behind-the-scenes program was one of 15 high-definition channels under Rainbow’s Voom HD services, which has closed down its U.S. operations. For the past 10 years, Licht, one of the show’s hosts, bounced from one runway show to the next. Early on, the show aired on the now-defunct Metro Channel. “We covered the events, gave color and background so viewers would know who are these people, who does the music and everything else,” Licht said.
Cablevision’s president and chief executive officer James Dolan and his father, Charles, the company’s chairman, were said to have crossed swords about whether to sell Voom’s entities individually or as a package. Last spring, Dish Network, Voom’s largest Stateside distributor, dropped the service. Rainbow then slapped a $1 billion lawsuit on Dish Network for allegedly breaking a 15-year carriage deal. The dispute has yet to be resolved and is expected to take at least a year, according to an internal memo circulated last month by Rainbow Media honcho Joshua Sapan. Rainbow Media executives declined to comment on the number of layoffs or anything else Voom related Wednesday.
With distribution in 36 markets worldwide, Voom’s international business is said to still be strong.
Sources said at least one party is interested in picking up the “Full Frontal Fashion” idea. It is unclear as to whether the name would have to be purchased outright or if the concept could be duplicated without legal ramifications.
— Rosemary Feitelberg
WHAT’S HIS NAME, AGAIN?: When Salma Hayek stopped by “The Late Show with David Letterman,” she was in for some good-natured ribbing about her relationship with her fiancé, François-Henri Pinault. “Who is this guy?” demanded Letterman, apparently no student of luxury goods or fashion brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent or Boucheron. When told his name, Letterman said, “Did you just make that up?” Asked if there was a wedding in the works, Hayek replied hesitantly, “I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe. But then again, maybe not.” For his part, Letterman offered the counsel of an in-law who chided him for not marrying the mother of his child: “Your child will hate you for the rest of your life.” Hayek also admitted she doesn’t speak much French, despite residing part time in Paris, having skipped out on a summer in the Sorbonne as a teenager.
NEW HIRES: Kent Brownridge continues to make changes at OK. He cleaned house Tuesday to make room for a number of new staffers, some from his old Wenner stomping grounds. First, the company dismissed six people, including senior editor Rob Chilton, photo staffers Lillian Pons and Betsy Jiminez, West Coast associate fashion editor Brenna Egan and Karen Berg, who was food and health editor. To replace those empty desks, the magazine hired two photo editors from Us Weekly: photo director Patti Wilson and news photo editor Maria DiGioia. It also picked up two staffers recently laid off from People: staff writer Ryan Pienciak, who will become OK’s news director, and Richard Jerome, who was named senior editor. The four editors will join on Monday.
Meanwhile, over at In Style, the magazine has tapped Lisa Arbetter to replace former deputy managing editor Eilidh MacAskill, who was named editor of In Style U.K. Arbetter was most recently deputy editor at People StyleWatch, where she’s been since it launched in 2007. Arbetter returns to In Style after working for five years there prior to joining Cargo, where she worked with In Style managing editor Ariel Foxman. She left Cargo to join StyleWatch in several editorial positions. StyleWatch is searching for a replacement for Arbetter.
— Stephanie D. Smith
WELL-DRESSED CABINET: Style.com appointed its own cabinet members for the Obama administration, looking to fashion insiders to fill key roles. In an article to be published on the site today, the article suggests yogi Donna Karan for secretary of health & human services; Karl Lagerfeld for secretary of transportation (“He staged one collection in an airplane hangar in L.A.; he’s been known to zip around Paris in a pimped-out minivan.”); Anna Sui for secretary of justice (Style.com lauded Sui for filing a copyright infringement suit against Forever 21 after the retailer copied her designs) and Tom Ford for secretary of education. “Two words: Sex Ed.” As for the pick for head of Homeland Security, the style site recommended The Waverly Inn manager Emil Varda. While Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter supervises the seating charts himself, the “imperturbable, Kissinger-accented manager Varda trains a wary eye on the nightly throngs.” Finally CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg was suggested as secretary of state. Perhaps Hillary Clinton should embrace the wrap dress once she transitions to D.C. in her new role.
CHANGING GEARS: Could ex-Condé Nast International honcho Bernd Runge be heading to the auction world? Sources said he’s in talks to join Phillips de Pury in London, starting in March. A Phillips spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday. Runge had been president of Condé Nast Germany, as well as overseeing the New Markets Europe/Africa division and holding the title of vice president, Condé Nast International. He left late last year. Runge directed the company’s expansion into Russia with the launch of Russian Vogue, and oversaw moves into several other countries, for a total portfolio of 26 magazines in 10 countries. A spokeswoman for the company said Runge would not be replaced at this time, and that his duties likely would be assumed by existing management.
— Miles Socha