Anna Wintour
Time is on her side…yes it is. At the young age of 63 Anna Wintour is still a force to be reckoned with. For those unfamiliar, here are a few basic hints; Nuclear Anna, Devil Wears Prada, The September Issue, “Ice Woman,” or, simply put, Editor in Chief of American Vogue since 1988.  Her chilly disposition and excruciating demands have earned her the credits of such labels and she doesn’t plan on taking a back seat anytime soon. Vogue IS an empire, and for 25 years, Anna has been dictator of this $100 billion industry, the lifeblood of fashion, trends, designers, couture, and fashion week. The world is at her fingertips; her net worth of $35 million, a chauffeured Mercedes S-Class both in New York and abroad, a $200,000 shopping allowance, an extensive fur collection, and the Coco Chanel Suite at the Hotel Ritz Paris while attending European fashion shows. Conde Nast president S.I. Newhouse also had the company make her an interest free $1.6 million load to purchase her townhouse in Greenwich Village. Has she earned her reputation as a “Nuclear Anna?” Getting the hard facts on this woman is easy, just Google her, read the countless bio’s, watch the clip on 60 minutes, etc. Knowing about her complicated, complex, convoluted career is the easy part.  But knowing Anna as a person isn’t. Her identity is Vogue and the hypersonic world of fashion. But eliminate those things, and what is left? To be Anna, is to “act” Anna, and she certainly has acted and played the part well. But what about the “being” part” A woman with so much power and influence over the entire world, she remains an abyss. Just WHO IS Anna Wintour? 

Opportunity was limitless for Anna. Born into a prestigious family, her father the late Charles Wintour was Editor of the Evening Standard. A curious English girl growing up in the 60’s who dropped out of North London Collegiate because she knew something extraordinary was going on; the emancipation of women, the revolution of fashion; the look of all the girls, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Her father decided for her that she should work in fashion. In a documentary, Anna clearly remembers filling out an application form and not knowing what to put under “career objective,” so her father told her to put Editor of Vogue. That was it, destiny decided. At 15 the Socialite wasn’t a frolicking teenager getting into trouble with boys and curfew. She was already dating “men;” an experienced adult with a blueprint and hardcore expectations to be principal in a nearly male dominated industry. This helped to form Anna's signature looks like her blunt bob haircut, oversized dark glasses, and high heels. Anna established her core look at age 14 and has changed it little since. 

At the throne, Ms. Wintour is one of the world’s fiercest fashion figures. She exudes decisiveness, precision, and clarity. A complete segue from her daytime career, Wintour has been making appearances on late night television, and her off the cuff convos and banter make this diva more perplexing. Her recent face-off with Stephen Colbert last May left him nearly dumbfounded with her quick-wittted and unequivocable responses about his fashion sense, all the while taking herself less seriously by agreeing to dress in zebra striped sweatpants and go “bobbing for french fries” at Long John Silvers with him. 

Her week long rendezvous with Bob Marley in the 70’s certainly deserves a wink, a nod, a “hell yeah,” or, for those less fortunate, maybe a “Hail Mary,” however you wanna look at it. This was one smitten lioness that reportedly told friends “She’d met God” and wanted “Mr. Morley” all to herself. A scandalous rendezvous methodically planned out with two different itineraries (just in case) for a weeklong stint in Brooklyn.  However forbidden, Anna did have a reputation to uphold. After all, the heralding editor of the most powerful fashion magazine in the universe couldn’t be seen running amuck in the streets with a Rasta-ruffian. She was a woman of high powered couture and a low margin of error. But she did it anyway and goddamnit, good for her! The Ice Queen who didn’t care for a week had a desire for the easy life and a libido. The flipside with a downside, the Athena of fashion is human afterall. One who is void of emotion certainly can’t genuinely laugh at herself on David Letterman when asked if she’s ever put anyone in a headlock. Except for maybe Mr. Bob Marley.

Then there’s the incident with her and flamboyant singer Nikki Minaj sitting next to each other at the front row of the Carolina Herrera show. Such a juxtaposition would certainly have the pr girl drummed out of the fashion scene for all eternity; BUT, the entire stunt was Wintour’s idea. Maybe we have been wrong about her all these years and the joke is on us. Whatever is causing this, I like this woman...A lot!  Brilliant comedic genius. 

At the opening credits of the documentary The September Issue, Anna said “There is something about fashion that can make people very nervous.” It is apparent that this fear or anxiety transcends into the workplace. Anna IS at the helm of fashion and her perfectionism, decisiveness, precision, and clarity stifle those who are easily intimidated. Ironically, the intimidation might be enhanced from “the fictitious Miranda Priestly” the character whose icy bitch persona was a modified Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada. In the world of Vogue, democracy doesn’t much exist; Wintour IS the demigod. If the vision and message aren’t correct, then hard work is revoked without much explanation. Grace Cottington, long time Creative Director of Vogue is the first person to tell staff that you have to demand otherwise you’ll be blamed. And for some Style Directors like Elissa Santisi, it’s difficult to go on to the next thing when she’s told that she has the “same minimal approach and the girls always look the same.” So much criticism is at the helm of The September Issue, but to be too nice means you’ll lose. In the workplace, Ms. Wintour doesn’t give a shit whether people like her. At least her subordinates. Coddington on the other hand, cares whether people like her from the mailman to the drycleaner. Wintour relates to important people who “are” important. Does that make her a bitch? And, is it time for Vogue to replace Forbes #51 Power Woman and bring in someone softer, younger, or both? What characteristics and credentials should be at the top of the list? That is the million-dollar question. Who should this abstruse person BE?  Most people might agree that Grace Coddington certainly has earned it. She has the creativity, vision, and likeability factor, but then there’s that age thing. There’s also the possibility of Roberta “Robbie” Myers- Editor in Chief of Elle. She’s young, competent, and poised and is neither Devil nor Prada. And, it might be refreshing for PETA to be able to take a break from staging crews outside of Fashion Week to throw tofu pies at someone who doesn’t wear fur. 

In any case, it is difficult to fathom Wintour’s name omitted in the opening credits of this prevailing publication. She has been Editor for nearly 25 years, and her stepping down is an inevitable reality. All good things come to an end, and good it has been. This woman has certainly earned her keep and the end of Wintour saddens me to think it could mean the end of the Vogue era too….but, here’s to new beginnings (at some point). 


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    April 2013