Impact Factor: Portrait of Power

I recently watched The September Issue on Netflix (in Canada). If you are interested in fashion, design, editing, or the politics power it is an interesting watch.  The film was very well done. Ultimately, I enjoyed it because it inspired me and engaged me in a new way of understanding design practices (I have a techie interactive design background). It also hints at the idea that fashion is often wrongly degraded and disregarded as a valid artistic medium.  A similar documentary First Monday in May, which also features Anna Wintour, further explores that idea if you are interested.  In that movie, they question whether this devaluing is because fashion is a female domain.  I would be inclined to concur based on the Wikipedia wedding dress fiasco.

My interest in the film, in relation to this blog, is the portrayal of Anna Wintour. To be prefectly honest, I did not know much about her before watching the documentary.  In fact, it wasn’t until part way through the movie that it even dawned on me that she was the inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada (I have only seen the movie.  If you have read the book, let me know if you recommend it in the comments).

Once I made that connection, the movie took on a different tone for me. Personally, I did not see her as a cold ice queen. For me, she embodies the female personification of power. She was very direct with those around her, which could be perceived as harsh, but likely because she just didn’t have the time to coddle them.  And quite frankly that isn’t her job. It is quite refreshing to see how someone could be very feminine, yet not conform to the tiring narrative of a nurturer.

I was fascinated with her because many females in a position of power seem to adopt a pseudo-male style to signal that they are powerful. Hillary Clinton is often pointed to as an example of this caricature. Anna Wintour doesn’t.  In fact, there almost seems to be an intense vulnerability bubbling just below her facade. And that is what I love about this idea of a feminine power. Females are often chastised for our perceived vulnerability. However, I have found through being vulnerable that it is actually a source of tremendous creativity, empathy, and strength.