Anna Wintour, OBE (born 3 November 1949) is the English-born editor-in-chief of American Vogue, a position she has held since 1988. With her trademark pageboy bob haircut and sunglasses, Wintour has become an institution throughout the fashion world, widely praised for her eye for fashion trends and her support for younger designers. Her reportedly aloof and demanding personality has earned her the nickname “Nuclear Wintour”.
She is the eldest daughter of Charles Wintour, editor of the London Evening Standard. Anna became interested in fashion as a teenager. Her father consulted her on how to make the newspaper relevant to the youth of the era. Her career in fashion journalism began at two British magazines. Later she moved to the United States, with stints at New York and House & Garden. She returned home for a year to turn around British Vogue, and later assumed control of the franchise’s magazine in New York, reviving what many saw as a stagnating publication. Her use of the magazine to shape the fashion industry has been the subject of debate within it. Animal rights activists have attacked her for promoting fur, while other critics have charged her with using the magazine to promote elitist views of femininity and beauty.
The young Wintour was educated at the independent North London Collegiate School, where she frequently rebelled against the dress code by taking up the hemlines of her skirts. At the age of 14 she began wearing her hair in a bob. She developed an interest in fashion as a regular viewer of Cathy McGowan on Ready Steady Go!, and from the issues of Seventeen her grandmother sent from America. “Growing up in London in the ’60s, you’d have to have had Irving Penn’s sack over your head not to know something extraordinary was happening in fashion”, she recalled. Her father regularly consulted her when he was considering ideas for increasing readership in the youth market.
At the age of 15 she began dating well-connected older men. She was involved briefly with Piers Paul Read, then 24. In her later teens, she and gossip columnist Nigel Dempster became a fixture on the London club circuit.
“I think my father really decided for me that I should work in fashion”, she recalled in The September Issue. He arranged for his daughter’s first job, at the influential Biba boutique, when she was 15. The next year, she left North London Collegiate and began a training program at Harrods. At her parents’ behest, she also took fashion classes at a nearby school. Soon she gave them up, saying, “You either know fashion or you don’t.” Another older boyfriend, Richard Neville, gave her her first experience of magazine production at his popular and controversial.
In 1970, when Harper’s Bazaar UK merged with Queen to become Harper’s & Queen, Wintour was hired as one of its first editorial assistants, beginning her career in fashion journalism. She told her co-workers that she wanted to edit Vogue. While there, she discovered model Annabel Hodin, a former North London classmate. Her connections helped her secure locations for innovative shoots by Helmut Newton, Jim Lee and other trend-setting photographers. One recreated the works of Renoir and Manet using models in go-go boots. After chronic disagreements with new editor Min Hogg, a rival, she quit and moved to New York with her boyfriend, freelance journalist Jon Bradshaw.
In her new home she became a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in New York City in 1975. Wintour’s innovative shoots led editor Tony Mazzola to fire her after nine months. She was introduced to Bob Marley by one of Bradshaw’s friends, and disappeared with him for a week. A few months later, Bradshaw helped her get her first position as a fashion editor, at Viva, a women’s adult magazine started by Kathy Keeton, then wife of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. She has rarely discussed working there due to that connection. This was the first job at which she was able to hire a personal assistant, which began her reputation as a demanding and difficult boss.
In late 1978, Guccione shut down the unprofitable magazine. Wintour decided to take some time off from work. She broke up with Bradshaw and began a relationship with French record producer Michel Esteban, dividing her time with him between Paris and New York for two years. She returned to work in 1980, succeeding Elsa Klensch as fashion editor for a new women’s magazine named Savvy. It sought to appeal to career-conscious professional women who spent their own money, the reader Wintour would later target at Vogue.
The next year, she became fashion editor of New York. There, the fashion spreads and photo shoots she had been putting together for years finally began attracting attention. Editor Edward Kosner sometimes bent very strict rules for her and let her work on other sections of the magazine. She learned through her work on a cover involving Rachel Ward how effectively celebrity covers sold copies. “Anna saw the celebrity thing coming before everyone else did”, Grace Coddington said three decades later. A former colleague arranged for an interview with Vogue editor Grace Mirabella that ended when Wintour told Mirabella she wanted her job.
Through the years she has come to be regarded as one of the most powerful people in fashion, setting trends and anointing new designers. Industry publicists often hear “Do you want me to go to Anna with this?” when they have differences with her subordinates. The Guardian has called her the “unofficial mayoress” of New York City. She has encouraged fashion houses such as Christian Dior to hire younger, fresher designers such as John Galliano.
Her influence extends outside fashion. She persuaded Donald Trump to let Marc Jacobs use a ballroom at the Plaza Hotel for a show when Jacobs and his partner were short of cash. More recently, she persuaded Brooks Brothers to hire the relatively unknown Thom Browne. A protégée at Vogue, Plum Sykes, became a successful novelist, drawing her settings from New York’s fashionable élite.
Her salary was reported to be $2 million a year in 2005. In addition, she receives several perks, such as a chauffeured Mercedes S-Class (both in New York and abroad), a $200,000 shopping allowance, and the Coco Chanel Suite at the Hotel Ritz Paris while attending European fashion shows. Condé Nast president S. I. New house also had the company make her an interest-free $1.6 million loan to purchase her townhouse in Greenwich Village.
Because of her position, Wintour’s wardrobe is often closely scrutinised and imitated. Earlier in her career, she mixed fashionable T-shirts and vests with designer jeans. When she started at Vogue as creative director she switched to Chanel suits with miniskirts. She continued to wear them during both pregnancies, opening the skirts slightly in back and keeping her jacket on to cover up.
Lauren Weisberger, a former Wintour assistant, who left Vogue for Departures along with Richard Story, wrote The Devil Wears Prada after a writing workshop he suggested she take. It was eagerly anticipated for its supposed insider portrait of Wintour prior to its publication. Wintour told The New York Times, “I always enjoy a great piece of fiction. I haven’t decided whether I am going to read it or not.” While it has been suggested that the setting and Miranda Priestly were based on Vogue and Wintour, Weisberger claims she drew not only from her own experiences but those of her friends as well. Wintour herself makes a cameo appearance near the end of the book, where it is said she and Miranda dislike each other.
In the novel, Miranda has many similarities to Wintour—among them, she is British, has two children, and is described as a major contributor to the Met. Priestly is a tyrant who makes impossible demands of her subordinates, gives them almost none of the information or time necessary to comply and then berates them for their failures to do so.
Betts, who had been fired by Harper’s after two years during which staffers said she tried too hard to emulate Wintour, reviewed it harshly in the New York Times Book Review:
Having worked at Vogue myself for eight years and having been mentored by Anna Wintour, I have to say Weisberger could have learned a few things in the year she sold her soul to the devil of fashion for $32,500. She had a ringside seat at one of the great editorial franchises in a business that exerts an enormous influence over women, but she seems to have understood almost nothing about the isolation and pressure of the job her boss was doing, or what it might cost a person like Miranda Priestly to become a character like Miranda Priestly.
Priestly has some positive qualities. Andrea notes that she makes all the magazine’s key editorial decisions by herself and that she has genuine class and style. ” I never for one second didn’t know it was an amazing opportunity to assist Anna”, Weisberger said in 2008.
Text: by Wikipedia