First, her French counterpart Carine Roitfeld landed on CNN, now it’s Anna’s turn as the Queen Bee of American fashion sits down with 60 Minutes‘ Morely Safer to talk business, rumors and why those sunglasses, ALL the time…
Now let’s get one thing straight before I go any further: I have loads of respect for Wintour, she’s helmed one of the most respected fashion magazines in the world since the 80′s. She’s worked with some of the best names in design, photography, journalism, and modeling, no one can argue that Anna doesn’t know her stuff. However, where the colors get a little fuzzy for me is in the amount of emphasis put on Anna as the deciding voice in fashion. From anxious designers hoping to win her approval to an office full of terrified assistants catering to her every whim, Wintour has built a larger than life persona for herself as the Ice Queen of the fashion world, but as the industry and media are changing almost daily am I the only one who feels that Anna and her persona are beginning to appear a bit overblown and outdated?
Wintour has obviously had a successful career, she’s bright, driven and by all accounts someone who gets things done. Vogue is still considered to be the bible of women’s high fashion, but to who? I don’t regularly hear the new creative garde singing the praises of Vogue, in fact I get the feeling that most consider it generally out of touch. With one too many articles and spotlights on cellulite reducers, lip plumpers and psychological assessments of why women have so many shoes, it has slipped from the category of “fashion” to the category of “women’s interest” and therefore taken a back seat to what are considered more provocative publications like i-D or Dazed and Confused.
For all intensive purposes Vogue serves a need, it bridges the gap between fashion and middle America, it reaches out to housewives in Kansas showing them what the dream worlds of Paris and Milan are like if wrapped in layers of silk and dripping with diamonds. There is nothing cutting edge about Vogue, there are familiar celebrities on the covers, recognizable names in the editorials, it seems almost predictable from start to finish and while in many respects this seems like a failure, to American audiences it is easy to digest. What I give Wintour is that she knows her clients, she understands how far they can be pushed, and while many an avant garde publication can stand on it’s pedestal and claim sovereignty, Wintour understands that hers is a business, a business that must please a lot of people and that is a balancing act.
For every Anna Wintour there are ten girls aspiring to be her and I understand the appeal. To be given the authority to make or break a name is a power not bestowed upon many, however this kind of power is fleeting and like the popular kids at school is only valid if no one challenges it. Is it really Anna or is it the fact that Anna sits at the head of a publication that can literally be found in every magazine aisle throughout America? And does her opinion have selling power, does her word really equal higher figures? It’s hard to tell. What’s fairly certain however is that Wintour can count on job security, but I believe the paradigm is shifting. The way people get information and the sources from which they obtain it is continuing to evolve, there are so many more opinions to take in and so many other voices to hear that the idea of taking one person’s word as golden seems archaic. There will always be authorities, there will always be people whose opinions are valued above the shouting masses but there are valid voices in those masses and they’re starting to make themselves heard. Whether it’s via the blogsphere, internet forums, or underground magazines gaining cult followings the old regime of magazine hierarchy is slowly being chipped away at and the mighty queen’s throne is looking duller everyday.