It is strange to sit opposite Anna Wintour. That's where I found myself for many of the spring / summer fashion shows last month.
To begin with, you can only stare. At the bob. To the sunglasses. To the puckered lips that suggest deep contemplation or – because it is hard to say – pure anger.
It's a look so endlessly parodied by other editors, by Hollywood, by anyone looking for a short way to summarize what the editor of a fashion magazine should look like – that the & # 39; of the original & # 39; up close seems to feel with the Mona Lisa.
And she is really an original; enveloped in legend as glamor and shine. Long before 5 o'clock in the morning, carbohydrates were the enemy and we all realized that stand-up meetings were the way forward, Anna Wintour did it all.
Farrah Storr spoke with 11 insiders from Anna Wintour (pictured on the SS 2020 show of Tom Ford) for her 70th birthday this Sunday
Stories about how to get up at 5 am to play tennis are countless. Just like the stories of her rare steak lunches. Then I thought it was exaggerated at best, in the worst case affection. Now I realize it was neither. She was just ten steps for all of us.
That's right, considering the work she does. After all, Vogue, the magazine that she has edited for 31 years, is about selling a lifestyle that is so gloriously ambitious and inaccessible. And nobody personifies that more than Anna & # 39; Nuclear & # 39; Wintour. She rarely gives interviews, rarely smiles and will never stay at the end of a party. What about the sunglasses? They only contribute to the seductive, unattainable mysticism.
But if someone has remained at the top of one of & # 39; s most competitive industries in the world for more than three decades, much more is needed than just watching. You see Anna & # 39; s real talents go much further than those of the editor. She is a skilled marketer, always close to the most glittering new talent, whether in Hollywood, fashion, politics or Silicon Valley.
She is also a connoisseur of people, especially those who want to see the world. This is most obvious in the Met Gala of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which she has transformed into a cultural touchstone, as well as a fundraising of several million dollars for the museum. But above all, she is a smart businesswoman, capable of saturating advertisers and stimulating the fashion industry as much as possible if she can excite magazine readers from being paid to edit.
Trish Halpin, the former editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, claims that there is an unwritten rule that you have no cows with Anna (photo in 2012)
Of course there are always rumors that her time in Vogue is coming to an end. Even in The Devil Wears Prada, the film allegedly based on Wintour and her relationship with a former assistant, the threat of departure is always on the horizon. And yet she never leaves. Because it is too valuable: for Conde Nast (the parent company of Vogue); to the fashion industry; to a world that is still fascinated with every movement.
Having Anna Wintour no longer in Vogue would be a bit like going to the Louvre with the Mona Lisa no longer there. & # 39; How is Anna? & # 39; is still the question that I am asked the most.
Here 11 other insiders share their own tribute to her.
Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief Elle Magazine
& # 39; THERE IS AN WRITTEN RULE – NO SMALL SPEAK & # 39;
Trish Halpin, former editor of Marie Claire
I once stood behind Anna at Heathrow and went through security for a 6:00 am flight to Milan for the fashion week. Although I would see her at the shows, it's an unwritten rule that you don't talk to her about her – there was only a short nod of recognition when we took off our coats and shoes.
She wore a pair of chic knee-high boots, which she wore for winter shows (in the summer it would be a style of Manolo Blahnik sandals – she must have made dozens of the same design for her).
When she took off the boots, I was surprised to see that she had a pair of thick woolly socks over her tights! Her perfect image was finally compromised. She seemed a bit vulnerable and just like the rest of us mortals board the plane that morning.
Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair, says that Anna (photo in 2008) has an impeccable style, even when she was pregnant
& # 39; THE BUTLER TAKEN ME TO HER ROOM AT THE RITZ & # 39;
Anya Hindmarch, designer
I will never forget the first time I met Anna. I was taken by the hotel butler to her private dining room at the Ritz. I was pretty scared. But you soon realize that Anna is getting things done. She is friendly, focused, quick on an email and generous with her connections. She is also interested. She has earned her formidable reputation. And every woman who can keep her like that deserves to be seen as scary.
& # 39; HOW did she look so chique when pregnant? & # 39;
Tina Brown, founder of Tina Brown Live Media / Women In The World and former editor of Vanity Fair
Anna has the highest standards of excellence in her work, in maintaining friendships and in her dedication to family. She gets what's important.
Her impeccable style even expanded until she was pregnant. I remember seeing her in the Conde Nast elevator when we were both together for about eight months. It was 1985, so she was pregnant with her son Charlie (now 34).
I wrote in my journal: & # 39; I am now as big as a tank. How is it possible that pregnant Anna Wintour only seems to have a neat couture bump under a long Chanel jacket, while I am now the size of a helium balloon? & # 39; She has become more interesting over the years. Her next act will be her best.
Sarah Cotton, who is creative director of Bang's salon, remembers Anna (in the photo in 1996) and spent more than an hour talking to her staff
& # 39; I HAVE BEEN NEARBY LIKE THEM IN "& # 39;
Stacey Duguid, fashion editor, Harrods magazine
In the late 90s, when I worked in PR, I represented a young designer named Louise Pring, in whom Sarah Mower, then a contributing editor of US Vogue, was interested. Sarah arranged to take Anna to the designer in a dingy studio in Soho.
I could have fainted with nerves. Louise and I almost vomited when she came in, a perfect view, short hair, glasses, a dress with a characteristic print. She was formidable but still curious and when she left, we had to lie down and catch our breath. I have always respected her for making the time in her schedule to meet new, unprecedented talent. Not many editors do that.
& # 39; MY HUSBAND HAS GIVEN HER A LARGE YORKSHIRE & # 39;
Sarah Cotton, creative director of the Bang hair salon in York
I was booked to do Anna & # 39; s her when she visited York in 2016 to speak at a charity event. Her niece, Ellie Wintour, who studied English there, invited her.
We were excited and honored to be asked – and then Anna had to cancel. The next day we received a phone call saying that Anna was on the way to meet us. She got out of a chic car dressed in Chanel.
As she shook my husband Jon's hand, he grabbed her for a big Yorkshire hug. She was a little stunned, but she hugged him back. She spent half an hour with all the staff and chatted.
Jo Elvin, editor of You Magazine, says that Anna (photo in 2008) requested a meeting with her after the launch of Glamor Magazine in 2002
We could not believe that she had done her best to visit us to apologize for canceling her appointment.
The funniest thing is that Jon had just had a vasectomy and jumped to Anna when we got the phone. He was told to wear loose clothing, but said: "I don't wear sweatpants to meet the Vogue editor," and I managed to put himself in skinny jeans. No permanent damage has been done!
& # 39; SHE HAVE NEVER LINKED HER SUNGLASSES & # 39;
Jo Elvin, editor of You Magazine, former editor of Glamor
Anna asked for a meeting with me in 2002 just after the launch of Glamor Magazine. It was the first smaller magazine the size of a & # 39; handbag size & # 39; and its success had made waves because everyone said it would never work.
So I got up at the crack of the day and went and let my hair blow dry for the meeting. I mean get a grip. In my small, poorly lit office, she didn't take off her sunglasses all the time. She was professionally cordial. Not hot but very free about the magazine.
No warming-up chit chat, just in business right away. I remember she said: & # 39; I don't want to waste your time & # 39; but I think we both knew she didn't want us to waste hers. After about half an hour the meeting was considered complete. I went to show her and she said very forcefully that she could see herself. The point is that all the wood paneling in our corridor made it difficult to see the difference between the walls and the one panel that was actually a door.
I saw Anna walking down the corridor, clearly unable to find the door.
Just when she finally found it, our mailroom man passed her by and said to me, loud enough for her to hear: & damn, who was the vampire lady I just saw leaving?! & # 39; I wanted to die.
A few days later an incredibly warm and gracious letter of thanks came from her, so maybe she didn't hear it.
& # 39; She told me to color my hair red & # 39;
Patrick Wintour (photo) says that Anna loves her family, no matter how extensive she is
Vanessa Friedman, fashion director of the New York Times
Anna is responsible for having red hair. When I was 25 and working at Vogue, she decided that dyeing my dirty blonde hair should be part of a story about becoming & # 39; glamorous & # 39; (Linda Evangelista, with her many hair changes, was the inspiration, I think). To everyone's surprise it looked better and since then I have saved it.
It is a small personal echo of how much the fashion world as we know it today reflects Anna & # 39; s taste and decision-making. Whether or not you agree with all of her decisions, there is no doubt that she has done more to shape fashion, to anticipate what is coming and to adapt to it, whether influencers of celebrities or the high / low mix, then one of her colleagues.
Along the way, she has also collected more power in the fashion world than anyone else. I don't think her path could ever be recreated – or should be. But it was something to see.
& # 39; SHE WILL DO EVERYTHING FOR FAMILY & # 39;
Patrick Wintour, Anna & # 39; s brother
Anna is not only fond of clothing, she loves her family, no matter how extensive she is. Nothing makes her happier than seeing people over 30 at a long table on a clear day in August on Long Island, with sons, daughters, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, parents-in-law, and hurt off during lunch. She understands them all and will do everything to help them get the best out of their lives.
& # 39; ANNA GIVE MY DREAM WEDDING DRESS & # 39;
Jemma Kidd (now Lady Mornington), make-up artist and model
I respect Anna more than almost every person. Her attention to detail, her professionalism, her loyalty, her kindness, her ability to recognize and nurture talent is inspiring. She has always been a true friend. I will never forget how she arranged the amazing Christian Lacroix to design my wedding dress. It was the dress of a bride's dreams – sublime, chic and romantic.
Fashion editor Sarah Christie, remembers that Anna (photo) pushed a cake in her face in 2005 by an animal activist
& # 39; THEY RENT THE BEST & LEAVE THEM TO IT & # 39;
Plum Sykes, editor at American Vogue
It goes without saying that Anna is one of the most powerful women in the media and that she is definitely the most powerful woman in fashion. What is extraordinary is to be both – and at the same time to be an inspiring mentor for everyone who works for her, including myself.
Anna & # 39; s incredible generosity when it comes to feeding editors, stylists, writers, designers, actors and the like is unparalleled and she has created some amazing stars in her & # 39; stable & # 39; Vogue.
I often wonder what the secret of her success is, but I think it's pretty simple: she chooses her team with incredible skills, hires the best and then lets them go on. All they want to do for her is their absolute best, and that's what she gets.
THERE WAS ANNA, ALONE, DRIPPING IN CREAM CASTLE
Sarah Christie, fashion editor
I was there when an animal rights activist put a cake in the face of Anna Wintour. It was outside of the Chloe show in Paris in 2005.
I was with colleagues when we became aware of commotion and there was Anna, all alone and dripping in cream cake. As a modest fashion editor, I was terrified of her. We were all staring there, rooted in the spot, until Elizabeth Claire, Marie Claire's executive fashion director, marched forward and pulled a pack of wet wipes (in a Prada tissue suitcase) out of her Gucci handbag. Not a word was said when she helped Anna tidy herself up, but two days later Elizabeth received a bouquet of flowers with a letter from Anna to thank you.
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