FROM THE VOLT (SUMMER 2008)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so we’ve got some of the fashion industry’s hottest designers on this side of the Pond, and some of the best photographers and models. But our much-loved fashion designers would be nothing without a handful of media players that have coddled them from their fashion infancy, shot the death out of their clothes and spent their few pennies (okay, for the people on this list, we ain’t talking pennies) on their garments.
The people that we’ve organised on the following pages have helped shape the industry landscape in the land of the free; they’re the ones responsible for showing the rest of us Americanos what’s hot and what’s not. Here, we’ve compiled some information we thought might interest you – if you want birthdays and facts, you can break out your Google machines and find it yourself, people. These people are more than dates and mastheads. These folks are industry icons in their own right.
Where does one begin with Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue for the past two decades? (Or, more importantly, what can one say about Anna Wintour? If you’re not careful with this powerful fashion doyenne, you’ll be a personal shopper at a Wal-Mart in Ohio quicker than you can say Nina Ricci.) Put simply, she has taken her role as an editor into spheres of this industry that no other could have expected or foreseen.
She’s the real deal, the maker and breaker of careers, legacies, design appointments and the products of our beloved fashion world. She’s the queen – nay, the king of the American fashion media. Sure, she’s stomped on a few toes along the way – probably the ugly ones in pointy-toe pumps – but all is forgiven when one thinks how she redefined what it means to be a magazine today. To be in American Vogue is to be at the top of this game…
I often wonder where her drive comes from. Was it her father Charles Wintour, the editor of the Evening Standard for nearly 20 years during the second half of the 20th century, who ignited an editorial flame in her? Was it a sense of competition during the late 1980s when, just starting at Vogue, she felt she needed to redirect the title? Or was it just an innate sense of determination and instinct? So much has been said about Wintour, and so much has been blatantly fabricated, that the professional essence of Ms Wintour has been lost in a cloud of salaciousness. But as anyone that has worked for the woman (and I did, very briefly, when my head was bigger – and my waistline smaller) will attest, Anna Wintour is much more than just a stern-faced lady with a penchant for Manolo slingbacks and Oscar de la Renta cocktail dresses.
See, the thing is, Anna isn’t a malicious boss. She’s not mean or unkind for the sake of being mean and unkind. She’s just efficient. She does more before noon than most of the rest of the world does all day (including a game of tennis and a blow-out, natch). She doesn’t mince her time and she won’t mince yours. She wants the picture now, that dress in a Renaissance red and her steak rare. And in the real world, that shouldn’t be a problem – no matter what some mousey, trollish assistant that hardly anyone at Vogue remembers penned in an international best-seller. (I often wonder what Anna really thinks of that book and the subsequent movie – sure, it said that she was Lucifer in Italian leather goods, but it also made her an icon of modern fashion. And a subject of the incomparable Meryl Streep. Not bad.)
At the end of the day – actually at the beginning of the day – Anna gets it done. She revolutionised her own magazine, anticipating the collision of the red carpet and the atelier, and of the film and fashion industries. She has the best photographers, stylists and designers listed below her on the masthead and a presence and respect unheralded in this industry. She’s been behind business deals, designer posts and break-through collections. So what if she does it with her arms crossed and with her Chanel shades on indoors?
One always has to ask one’s self: if Anna were a man and was as demanding as she is, would it be such a scandal? I don’t think so. So, sure, I still cringe to think of my childish behaviour when I worked for her (but between her and the managing editor, Laurie Jones, I learned more in my tenure there than from all four years of journalism school), and I can still barely make eye contact with the lady, but New York fashion – and the fashion industry as a whole – is a better place because of AW. And anyone that says otherwise, or demeans her skills for being a demanding woman, is not a bright person.
by Derek Blasberg