17 November 2015

What Would Anna Do?

Her name provokes shudders down the spines of inferior employees in the office. Her shades and hair are completely identifiable as her thing. Her presence parts crowds and her absence would cause a gaping hole in fashion’s front row. Since 1998, Anna Wintour has stood firm at the helm of American Vogue in the role of editor-in-chief. She boasts the title of ‘the single most important person in the fashion industry’ due to the incomprehensible influence, killer reputation and mounting power that she holds in her presumably manicured hands. She increasingly revolutionised fashion publications as one of the first fashion editors to shoot celebrity covers and has launched the careers of numerous designers, stylists, models, photographers and journalists in this ever-evolving industry.

Wintour balances creativity and commerce with a finite intricacy that is positively admirable in an industry thought to be worth over £18bn worldwide, and for a publication of such commercial value. Her combination of high-end and high-street products make the magazine more identifiable to the masses and give a wider option of advertisers and business opportunities; while maintaining the dreamy, otherworldly, aspirational qualities that engage readers, attract devoted followings and most importantly, provide a form of escapism. Fashion designers hold her opinion in the highest regard and consult her on their ideologies before a collection is finalised to ensure that they’ll have her blessing, inducing sights of relief all round if they get it.

Decisions over images, fonts, layouts and colours all have a significant impact on the aesthetic of a magazine but require decisive action from Wintour. As a leader with experience and vast knowledge, she trusts her own instincts and makes these decisions in the most time-effective of manners. For her vision to become reality, Wintour must hand control over to the professionals around her and rely on photographers, graphic designers and writers, among others, to do their job properly – something that isn’t easy to do when you're so used to being in charge.


Wintour’s catapulting into the public eye has put her idolised persona on a pedestal. She successfully manages to keep her private life under wraps, creating a mystique and curiosity around her character. When in discussion with Suzy Menkes, Vogue’s International Editor, Wintour proclaimed; "You have to present yourself, you have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus, and what you believe in." Her role as an editor-in-chief of arguably the most influential magazine in the world has forced her to become a leader whether she intended to be one or not. Her previously mentioned influence on the designs of fashion houses is the most valuable string on her polished bow, affecting each and every one of us.

If Wintour tells a designer that the skirt she is showing would be better in leather, she will change her whole buy of fabric and show a leather skirt in her collection. This will then be presented on the catwalk - for which buyers, trendsetters and key fashion figures will be watching. The approaching season, this leather skirt will be sold in luxury boutiques and department stores for early adopters to get their hands on. Simultaneously, those journalists who were at the show - jacked up on black coffee and and living on almonds amid the hectic fashion weeks - will write articles on these and similar pieces, raising more awareness of the trend among the general public. Eventually, it trickles its way down to the high street retailers and is adopted by the masses: think Andy Sachs' infamous lumpy blue ("not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis. It's actually cerulean") sweater in the Devil Wears Prada. This process affects billions of people around the world in one way or another and is more often than not, due to a mere momentary decision made by one powerful woman.