Our next woman on the timeline is someone who is an icon of our time. You probably all know her with her iconic Chanel sunglasses, pageboy haircut and the frosty attitude: Anna Wintour the editor-in-chief of Vogue.
Wintour turned the Vogue magazine into the iconic fashion magazine we all know today. Her work situation was not the best when she started as editor, but she quickly turned it around and used this situation to her advantage. Her vision for the new Vogue was to incorporate the new kind of woman she saw emerge in the 90s: a woman that is interested in business, money and does not have excessive amounts of time to shop, but still wants to be glamorous. Now she is not only the editor-in-chief of Vogue but also part of the parent company of Vogue, Conde Nast.
Learn more about this fashion and journalistic icon and her career path in the full article.
Anna Wintour | *03-11-1949 | UK | Fashion Journalist, Editor-in-Chief Vogue
Most people would probably recognize her by her distinctive pageboy haircut and the ever-present dark sunglasses. Anna Wintour – journalist, editor-in-chief of the famous Vogue magazine and surely one of the most influential people in fashion.
Anna Wintour was born on November 3, 1949 in London. Her father was also active in journalism, working as an editor of the London Evening Standard. Inspired by the emergence of fashion in the London of the 1960s, Anna fell in love with fashion early on.
After working as a fashion assistant at Harper’s & Queen in London, she moved to New York in 1976 and worked as a fashion editor at Haper’s Bazaar. After a couple of fashion-related jobs at different magazines in New York, Wintour returned to London to start her career at Vogue. In 1986, she brought her vision with her to British Vogue, stating in an interview with the London Evening Standard that “There is a new kind of woman out there. She’s interested in business and money. She doesn’t have time to shop anymore. She wants to know what and why and where and how.” And she wanted Vogue to, in line with this, “be pacy, sharp, and sexy”.
In 1988 she got the position of editor-in-chief at the American Vogue, back in New York. The situation the magazine was in at the time of her take-over was not ideal as it faced competition by for instance Elle magazine. However, Wintour used this to her advantage and managed the situation well. It gave her the opportunity to bring in her ideas and steer the brand of Vogue into a new direction. One of the changes she implemented was the replacement of supermodels with celebrities to star on the front page of the magazine. She had a huge impact on Vogue in terms of content, the featured designers but also additional business ventures. In 2013, she became artistic director at Conde Nast, the parent company of Vogue.
Additional achievements outside of the world of fashion and journalism include the fact that she was made an Officer of the order of the British Empire and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It should also be noted that Wintour engages in charitable donations. For example, she raised money for the Twin Tower fund, supports new designers and raises money for the MET. She is also a supporter of the Democratic Party.
If you ever wondered what it might be like to work for Wintour, watching ‘The Devil wears Prada” might give you a glimpse. Well, it remains a mystery to what degree the fiction is based on Wintour. All we know is that it was written by her former assistant Lauren Weisberger about her time at Vogue. The character of Miranda Priestly might be a caricature of Wintour, who attended the movie’s premier, wearing – you guessed it, Prada. If the rumor is true and ‘The Devil wears Prada’ is indeed based on Wintour’s leadership style, you probably would not want to work for her. But her career and achievements are impressive nevertheless.
Being known for always speaking her mind, one of her nicknames apparently includes “Nuclear Wintour”. To comments about her reputation of being difficult to work for and having a tough editing style Wintour says that “people respond well to people who are sure of what they want” (60 Minutes Interview).
Let’s end with a fun fact. Even though Wintour’s commitment to fashion is illustrated by the fact that she reportedly wore Chanel, miniskirts during her pregnancy by leaving the zipper at the back open, even she as one of the most prominent figures in fashion was affected by the influence of working from home that came with the COVID-19 pandemic: on Instagram she shared a picture of herself wearing sweatpants. But of course she was wearing the iconic sunglasses. Who thought this could happen? In case you can’t believe it, the Internet also kind of lost its mind about it, but it’s true. See for yourself: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-7J-9Un8qn/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
Author: Gina Kouter
Image: Myles Kalus