If you've ever picked up a Vogue magazine, you've seen the beautiful, sometimes magical, fashion spreads. They aren't just pretty pictures with pretty women in pretty clothes. They're telling a story.
"In Vogue: The Editor's Eye" (9 tonight, HBO) introduces us to the storytellers, the fashion editors who conceive the stories and then find just the right photographers and models and moments to bring them to life on the magazine's pages. It's a documentary full of stories, fun characters, and of course, gorgeous images, although at an hour long with several stories to tell you might be left wanting.
Vogue is 120 now, and the film uses the anniversary element as a structure. We go through Vogue's history, which is the history of women's magazines, the history of women's images, the history of photography and fashion, a view of the nature of celebrity and the changing notions of beauty and more. Current Vogue editor Anna Wintour gives perspective but cedes the floor to fashion editors from the various eras: Babs Simpson, Phyllis Posnick, Camilla Nickerson, Jade Hobson, Carylyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Polly Allen Mellen, Tonne Goodman and Grace Coddington.
Celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker weigh in, as do designers Alber Elbaz, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang, who worked at Vogue. Best of all is Hamish Bowles, the international editor at large for Vogue. He's just charming.
Some great stories come out; Jade Hobson tells the story of tangling with Elizabeth Taylor because Hobson wanted to get behind Taylor's polished public 80s image and take more natural, less glam pictures. Taylor wasn't on board. So Hobson took drastic measures. (Gulp.)
Each of the women have different styles and sensibilities. What they share is passion; listen to Polly Mellen, a famously stern woman, talk about the moment in a photo shoot when a snake kisses Nastassjia Kinski, and you hear and see awe for the moment and the process.
It would have been interesting to hear how these women of vision came to be. But at the beginning of the film, you see them struggle to explain what they do. Maybe an air of mystery comes with the editor's eye.