Anna Wintour is a fashion journalist and editor-in-chief of the American ‘Vogue’, a monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine. Her journey in fashion journalism began in England when she worked with two British magazines. Her next spell saw her shifting to the US and working in publications like ‘Harper's Bazaar’, ‘Viva’, ‘New York’ and ‘House & Garden’. She went back to England to join the British ‘Vogue’ and after a stint of a year or so she was inducted in the magazine’s New York wing where she became the editor-in-chief in July 1988. She played an instrumental role in reviving the magazine which was otherwise struggling at that time. She transformed the publication into a more youthful and receptive one focussing on modern perception on style and fashion targeting a far-reaching audience. She was made the artistic director of ‘Condé Nast’, the publisher of ‘Vogue’. She is noted for her trademark dark sunglasses and bob haircut and her reputedly standoffish and demanding nature gave her the epithet ‘Nuclear Wintour’. While she is largely acclaimed for supporting young designers, she often faces criticism for using the magazine as a platform to pass on viewpoints of elites regarding beauty and femininity. She has also been attacked by animal rights activists for endorsing fur.
- She was born on November 3, 1949, in the family of Charles Wintour and Eleanor "Nonie" Trego Baker as one of their five children. Her father was editor of a free daily newspaper, the ‘London Evening Standard’ and her mother was a philanthropist. Her parents were divorced in 1979.She studied at the ‘North London Collegiate School’. She showcased an independent mind since her early days and often revolted against the dress code of her school by shortening her skirt. At fifteen she got first job through her father at the renowned boutique, ‘Biba’. She decided to give up her academics and dropped out of her finishing school and took a training program at ‘Harrods’. She enrolled in a school to attend fashion classes at the insistence of her parents but soon dropped out.From fifteen years of age she flaunted a bob hairstyle. Eventually she became a part of the tony London life that she admired and frequented the London clubs that were visited by some of the biggest pop stars including ‘Rolling Stones’ and ‘Beatles’.She went out with older men who had good connections. She dated English novelist and historian Piers Paul Read during that time and later became a common face in the London club circuit along with Nigel Dempster, a gossip columnist.She was a fashion enthusiast from her teenage and regularly viewed Cathy McGowan on ‘Ready Steady Go!’ She also remained keen for the issues of ‘Seventeen’ that were sent by her grandmother from America.Her father Charles Wintour many a times consulted her to make the local newspaper more pertinent for the younger generation so as to grab the youth market. Richard Neville, co-editor of ‘Oz’, a counterculture magazine, was one of her older boyfriends through whom she had her first experience on magazine production.Career
- Her first job in the field of fashion journalism happened in 1970 when she was inducted as an editorial assistant at the ‘Harper's & Queen ‘. Here she worked with path-breaking photographers like Jim Lee and Helmut Newtown among others. Her well-connected network paved her way in getting good and creative locations for photo shoots.After quitting the job she shifted to New York along with her freelance journalist boyfriend Jon Bradshaw and in 1975 took the job of a junior fashion editor at the ‘Harper's Bazaar’s’ wing there. She was fired by Editor Tony Mazzola after nine months.With the aid of Jon Bradshaw she joined a women’s adult magazine, ‘Viva’ as its fashion editor but the magazine was shut down in 1978.In 1980 she became the fashion editor of ‘Savvy’, a women’s magazine and in 1981 she was working with ‘New York’ as its fashion editor. Here under the instruction of Editor Edward Kosner she worked on different sections and eventually learned how a celebrity cover plays an instrumental role in selling copies.She became the creative director of ‘Vogue’ in 1983 accepting an offer by the editorial director of ‘Condé Nast’, Alex Liberman, following a bargain that doubled her remuneration.In 1985 she became the chief editor of the British ‘Vogue’ succeeding Beatrix Miller and went back to London to take up her post. After taking charge she made various changes including replacing staffs. She proved to be a strict controller with a temperamental and impatient nature that earned her the epithets, ‘Nuclear Wintour’ and ‘Wintour of Our Discontent’.In 1987 she joined ‘Home and Garden’, another publication of ‘Condé Nast’ where again she made certain fundamental changes including staffing and went on to discard some already paid for articles and photos worth $2 million in her very first week. When she clipped the title to ‘HG’, the magazine not only failed to garner support from its long-time subscribers, but also lost many of them and eventually lost many of its conventional advertisers.In 1988 she became the editor-in-chief of American ‘Vogue’ and moved to New York. At that time ‘Vogue’, the otherwise frontrunner in fashion publication since 1960s was struggling and facing stiff competition from ‘Elle’, a three year old publication.Anna Wintour played an instrumental role in reviving the magazine. She made rigorous changes in staffing, altered the style of cover pictures and transformed the publication into a more youthful and receptive one focussing on modern perception on style and fashion targeting a far-reaching audience. She never hesitated to tread new ground that included inducting celebrities instead of supermodels on covers and introducing a mix of expensive and low-end fashion items during her photo shoots.In 2013 she became the artistic director of the publisher of ‘Vogue’, ‘Condé Nast’ while retaining her position in ‘Vogue’.She eventually became an influential name in the world of fashion setting trends and is largely acclaimed for helping young designers such as Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs.Her political affiliation for the ‘Democratic Party’ came through during the 2000 Senate run of Hillary Clinton and 2004 presidential run of John Kerry. During the presidential runs of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, she served as a ‘bundler’ of contributions and remained a host along with Sarah Jessica Parker at the fundraising events that saw the likes of Meryl Streep as attendees. During Barrack Obama’s first term, she participated in a fundraiser along with Harvey Weinstein and Calvin Klein.In 2013 she hired Hildy Kuryk as the director of communication of ‘Vogue’. Kuryk has remained a fundraiser during the first campaign of Barrack Obama as also for the ‘Democratic National Committee’.In 2014, she along with Diane von Furstenberg, Ken Downing, Andrew Rosen, and Jenna Lyons starred in the documentary ‘The Fashion Fund’, which is about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition. It was aired on ‘Ovation TV’.Major Works
- Her determination and zeal to upsurge the American ‘Vogue’ after becoming its editor-in-chief in 1988 bore fruit and the magazine regained its position as the frontrunner beating three of its competition, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, ‘Mirabella’ and ‘Elle’. She successfully accomplished her goal of restoring the position of ‘Vogue’ in her over two decade long career with the magazine.Personal Life & Legacy
- She married child psychiatrist David Shaffer in 1984 and the couple has two children - Charles, born in 1985 and Katherine born in 1987. The couple divorced in 1999.Humanitarian Work
- She is associated with the ‘Metropolitan Museum of Art’ in New York as one of its trustees and has raised funds regularly for its ‘Costume Institute’ that sums up to around $50 million.Since 1990 she has raised funds for the ‘AIDS’ charities worth over $10 million.The CDFA/Vogue fund was started by her to aid unknown fashion designers.She also aided in raising funds for the Twin Towers after it faced terror attack on September 11, 2001.Trivia
- ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (2003), written by her former assistant, Lauren Weisberger, which was later made into a film in 2006 showcases a demanding boss, somewhat resembling Wintour. She surprised all when she attended the premiere of the film dressing up as Prada.The ‘Costume Institute’ complex of the ‘Metropolitan Museum of Art’ was named after her in January 2014.The ‘Forbes’ enlisted her as the world’s thirty-ninth most powerful woman.
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