'You either know fashion or you don't': A Look at the Life of Anna Wintour

On the back of the biography released earlier this month, Carly Horne asks what current editor-in-chief of US Vogue, Anna Wintour’s, legacy will be.

Carly Horne
31st May 2022
Image: Instagram @vogueczechoslovakia
Released earlier this month was Anna: The Biography, Amy Odell's depiction of the life and career of the most powerful woman in fashion - Anna Wintour. Known for perceived coldness and no end of controversial remarks, what will her legacy be in the fashion world?

On the surface, Anna Wintour is everything the fashion world should aim to promote less of. Privately educated and privileged, aggressive in her pro-fur stance and complicit in promoting the unrealistic standards of models in fashion, it's hard to believe her impact on the industry has been largely positive.

On the surface, Anna Wintour is everything the fashion world should aim to promote less of

Image: Instagram @dame_annawintour

For it was in 2005 that André Leon Talley (former Vogue editor-at-large) told Oprah Winfrey "Most of the Vogue girls are so thin, tremendously thin [...] because Miss Anna don't like fat people."

But Anna Wintour is also unapologetic in her sense of self, and in this regard, she is everything a woman in the public eye should strive to be.

Perhaps it is this sense of self-assurance which has allowed Wintour to make the steep climb to the top of the fashion industry, though her one-of-a -kind ability to spot emerging trends surely helps.

She is unapologetic in her sense of self, and in this regard, she is everything a woman in the public eye should strive to be

With this knowledge of the world around her, Wintour has an uncanny ability to adapt to changing times (and trends, though she says the word is "dirty"). She is listened to in the fashion industry, and her opinion is sought. Even as a long time Democrat, she managed to persuade Donald J. Trump to allow Marc Jacobs to use a ballroom at the Plaza before the designer's career took off.

Image: Instagram @anna_wintourofficial

Anna Wintour's interest in fashion is longstanding, however, as a job at Biba at the age of 15 kickstarted what would become an incredible foray into the world of high fashion. After a stint at Harrods, it was in 1970 that Wintour joined the Harper's and Queen team as a junior editorial assistant. Reported as telling her colleagues she was going to edit Vogue one day, it seems Wintour's determination has truly paid off.

Image: Instagram @nadleia

Under her editorship, Vogue US saw drastic changes from Grace Mirabella's creative direction.

Anna Wintour's most iconic cover was, indeed, her first in the role. Depicting Michaela Bercu in a candid shot, sporting $50 faded jeans and a $10,000 Christian Lacroix jacket, her decision to make this the cover shot not only altered the future direction of Vogue, but allowed readers to consider pairing inexpensive pieces with the more luxury items which Mirabella had relied on.

But at this time, Wintour saw the importance of utilising lesser-known models, too. Though this is no longer as true.

Currently, Vogue relies on celebrities for many of their cover shoots, as well as failing to depict normal working women

Currently, Vogue relies on celebrities for many of their cover shoots, as well as failing to depict normal working women in the publication.

Image: Instagram @vogue

And that will be part of Anna Wintour's legacy.

Anna Wintour is so respected for a reason: she has found the balance between the aesthetic of luxury and what a regular reader aspires to be. Though hardly a contributor to the democratization of fashion, it is thanks to Anna Wintour that the normal working person (whom she is reluctant to depict) is able to flip through the glossy pages and fantasise about life in high society.

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