Anna Wintour is best known as the legendary and influential editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. She is the most powerful and polarizing figure in fashion for over 20 years. An intimidating figure, she carries her trademark style of oversized dark glasses, high heels, sharp bob hairstyle and icy demeanour with great aplomb. The editor's icy demeanor reportedly inspired the 2003 novel and 2012 movie, The Devil Wears Prada, written by her former assistant, Lauren Weisberger - a fictionalized account of her days at Vogue.
Fashion icon Anna Wintour was born in London, England, on November 3, 1949. She is the eldest daughter of Charles Wintour, the editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper and philanthropist Elinor Wintour. Born into a family with considerable wealth, Wintour demonstrated a tendency to do things her own way at an early age. While studying at North London Collegiate School, she frequently rebelled against the dress code by taking up the hemlines of her skirt. As a teenager, she made the decision to forgo academics, dropping out of her fancy finishing school and opting instead for a life that revolved around the London life of the 1960s.
Wintour developed an interest in fashion as a regular viewer of Cathy McGowan on Ready Steady Go! and from the issues of Seventeen which her grandmother sent from the United States. At the age of 14, she began wearing her hair in a bob.
"I think my father really decided for me that I should work in fashion," she recalled in The September Issue. He arranged for his daughter's first job, at the influential Biba boutique, when she was 15. The next year, she left North London Collegiate and began a training program at Harrods. At her parents' behest, she also took fashion classes at a nearby school. Soon she gave them up, saying, "You either know fashion or you don't." Another older boyfriend, Richard Neville, gave her her first experience of magazine production at his popular and controversial Oz.
Wintour entered the fashion journalism world when she was hired as an editorial assistant in the fashion department at Harper's & Queen in London. Over the years, she rose up the editorial ladder and bounced from publication to publication between New York and London.
In 1976, she moved to New York and took over as fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar. Wintour left Harper's for a job at Viva, a women's adult magazine owned by the same outfit that managed Penthouse. There, Wintour became the magazine's fashion department's high-end editor and manager. This was the first job at which she was able to hire a personal assistant, which began her reputation as a demanding and difficult boss.
In late 1978, the unprofitable magazine shut down. Wintour decided to take some time off from work.
Wintour returned to work in 1980, succeeding Elsa Klensch as fashion editor for a new women's magazine named Savvy. It sought to appeal to career-conscious professional women who spent their own money, the readers Wintour would later target at Vogue.
The following year, she became fashion editor of New York. There, the fashion spreads and photo shoots she had been putting together for years finally began attracting attention. She learned through her work on a cover involving Rachel Ward how effectively celebrity covers sold copies. "Anna saw the celebrity thing coming before everyone else did," Grace Coddington said three decades later. A former colleague arranged for an interview with Vogue editor Grace Mirabella that ended when Wintour told Mirabella she wanted her job.
Wintour went to work at Vogue later when Alex Liberman, editorial director for Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, talked to Wintour about a position there in 1983. She eventually accepted after a bidding war that doubled her salary, becoming the magazine's first creative director. At the time, the fashion magazine had lost some market share to rival Elle and its focus had shifted slightly to include lifestyle coverage.
Under her editorship, the magazine renewed its focus on fashion and returned to the prominence. Vogue held its position as market leader against three contenders: Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Mirabella.
Wintour became a force in the fashion world, not only through her decisions about what to feature in her magazine, but also by breaking in newer designers and celebrating their styles. She helped make the careers of designers such as Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen and encouraged fashion houses such as Christian Dior to hire younger, fresher designers such as John Galliano.
Wintour has now attended more than 3,000 fashion shows on behalf of Vogue and shared the front row with countless celebrities such as Naomi Watts, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Jessica Parker, Blake Lively etc.
Wintour’s position within Condé Nast expanded in 2013 to oversee all of the company’s publications as artistic director, while still remaining editor-in-chief of Vogue.
Wintour's work has made her a power broker between designers and retailers. In 2006, she initiated a deal between men's designer Thom Browne and Brooks Brothers, which resulted Browne's work appearing in 90 of the retailer's stores.
She persuaded Donald Trump to let Marc Jacobs use a ballroom at the Plaza Hotel for a show when Jacobs and his partner were short of cash.
In 1988, Wintour was named editor-in-chief of Vogue. She decisively called an end to the supermodel era, showcasing a preference for celebrities rather than models on her covers. Wintour was also the first to truly mix low-end fashion items with more expensive pieces in her photo shoots. Her debut cover in November 1988 included a 19-year-old Israeli model outfitted in a pair of $50 jeans and a $10,000 jewel-encrusted t-shirt.
Through the years, Wintour developed a reputation for being aloof and cold. It has been said that she is difficult to work for and insists that her staff always look fashion-forward and rail-thin. Wintour doesn't exactly deny she can be a demanding person for which to work. "I'm very driven by what I do," Wintour has said. "I am certainly very competitive. I like people who represent the best at what they do, and if that turns you into a perfectionist then maybe I am."
Wintour's sharp critiques and lack of patience soon earned a few memorable nicknames: "Nuclear Wintour" and "Wintour of Our Discontent." The editor, though, relished it. "I'm the Condé Nast hit man," she told a friend. "I love coming in and changing magazines."
Wintour's salary was reported to be $2 million a year in 2005. In addition, she receives several perks, such as a chauffeured Mercedes S-Class (both in New York and abroad), a $200,000 shopping allowance and the Coco Chanel Suite at the Hotel Ritz Paris while attending European fashion shows.
Her next big makeover came in 1987 with another Condé Nast publication, Home and Garden, which was lagging behind rival Architectural Digest. She summarily changed the publication's title to HG, made radical changes to staff and look and managed to cancel nearly $2 million of already-paid-for photos and articles. She put so much fashion in photo spreads that it became known as House & Garment and enough celebrities that it was referred to as Vanity Chair, within the industry. These changes worsened the magazine's problems.
In 1988, Wintour was named editor-in-chief of Vogue. Over the course of the next few decades, she became highly influential, leading the magazine to success and overseeing three spinoffs: Men’s Vogue, Vogue Living and Teen Vogue.
The editor's icy demeanor reportedly inspired the 2003 novel,The Devil Wears Prada, written by her former assistant, Lauren Weisberger - a fictionalized account of her days at Vogue.
In the novel, Miranda has many similarities to Wintour—among them, she is British, has two children and is described as a major contributor to the Met. Priestly is a tyrant; who makes impossible demands of her subordinates, gives them almost none of the information or time necessary to comply and then berates them for their failures to do so. Wintour told The New York Times, "I always enjoy a great piece of fiction. I haven't decided whether I am going to read it or not."
It spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list.
The film starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt was released in mid-2006 to great commercial success. It made over $300 million in worldwide box office collections. Wintour turned heads when she arrived at the film's premiere dressed in Prada. Later in 2006, in an interview with Barbara Walters that aired the day of the DVD's release, Wintour said she found the film "really entertaining" and praised it for making fashion "entertaining and glamorous and interesting ... I was 100 percent behind it."
Wintour's remarks about obesity have caused controversy on more than one occasion. In 2005, Wintour was heavily criticised by the New York chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance after Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley said on The Oprah Winfrey Show, at one point, Wintour demanded he lose weight. "Most of the Vogue girls are so thin, tremendously thin" he said, "because Miss Anna doesn't like fat people." She has reportedly told Oprah Winfrey to lose weight before her cover photograph.
At the 2008 Milan Fashion Week she requested that some key shows be rescheduled for earlier in the week so she and other U.S.-based editors could have time to return home before the Paris shows. This led to complaints. Other editors said they had to rush through the earlier shows, and lesser-known designers who had to show later were denied an important audience. Dolce & Gabbana said Italian fashion was getting short shrift and Milan was becoming a "circus without sense."
Wintour chairs the Met Gala event since 1995 (excluding 1996 and 1998) and oversees both the benefit committee and the guest list, with Vogue staffers helping assemble the list of invitees. She is said to have personally chosen the clothes for prominent attendees such as Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Donald Trump, and Diane von Fürstenberg.
Wintour was listed as "one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s" by the Guardian in March 2013. Her fashion preference since starting at Vogue as creative director has been Chanel suits with miniskirts. She even wore them during both her pregnancies. She is known for her oversized dark glasses, high heels and sharp bob hairstyle.
Wintour has been supporting Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential Campaign, forming part of Clinton's long list of wealthy donors as well as serving as Clinton's consultant on her wardrobe choices for key moments of the campaign.
The First Monday in May is a 2016 documentary film directed by Andrew Rossi.The film follows the creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's most attended fashion exhibit in history: the 2015 art exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass by curator Andrew Bolton at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The film also depicts Wintour's daily life and questions fashion as art.
The September Issue is a 2009 documentary film about the behind-the-scenes drama that follows Anna Wintour and her staff during the production of the September 2007 issue of Vogue.