To judge from the gender balance in the audience, there aren't a lot of blokes lining up to see The September Issue, the new documentary feature that gives us a peek inside the walls of Vogue magazine in New York. Which is a pity, because the film has a lot to offer anyone - male or female - with an interest in creativity or innovation. If we are to believe what we are fed by the media, all conflict and disagreement - especially between those on the 'same side' - is bad. Daily newspapers magnify any difference in opinion between two politicians of the same party. The sports pages hone in on the smallest sign of disagreement between a coach and a player. And of course the tabloid press couches every tiff between celebrity partners as a sign of impending separation.
So things should not be good at American Vogue. As portrayed in the documentary, editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington rarely agree. Grace organises spellbinding shoots, only to have Anna curtly discard her work without discussion. There are moments of silence between the two in which we can almost feel the temperature dropping.
Yet something works at Vogue. Anna and Grace have both worked together at the magazine for over 20 years. And the magazine retains a circulation of over a million copies a month despite increasing competition from other magazines, the rise of online and the recession.
Why? Because despite the media intimation, there is nothing wrong with conflicting opinion. In fact the opposite is generally true. Getting the best result, whether in creative pursuits, business decisions or politics, requires a level of disagreement. That's how creativity works.
It isn't always easy. Most of us can remember the sinking feeling after a teacher points out a mistake. When I workshop my writing, it is hard - sometimes very hard - to cordially accept the suggestions of others. There are times in The September Issue when Grace looks ready to throw it all in.
But deep down we understand that as long as criticism is not personal, it is probably valuable.
Conflict does go too far occasionally, of course: just ask Noel and Liam Gallagher of perpetually disbanding band Oasis. But this is rare - far more rare than the gossip mags would have us believe. Certainly the faint threat of this happening shouldn’t cause us to shy away from seeking - or giving - our opinion.
The September Issue allows us the luxury of watching a powerful creative partnership from a safe distance. Watch it, and enjoy the tension.