Interviewer: “What do you expect of your assistants and has that criteria change over the years?”
Anna: “Well I hope my assistants won’t write books about me.”
Perhaps the most meaningful insight into Anna Wintour is revealed in the first few minutes in the third lesson of her masterclass. Without question in response to her alleged characterisation in the Devil Wears Prada where Lauren Weisberger, one of said ex-assistants, allegedly depicts Wintour as Miranda Priestly, the cold and overbearing editor. Let’s be honest, Andy was whining and entitled and don’t even get me started on her half-arsed, condescending and quite frankly, stupid boyfriend. Satire aside, Wintour is a person that draws much fascination not least because as renowned and known as she is, not a lot is known about her life outside of the sunglasses and bob we have come to associate her with. She can often come across as aloof, but the response to that question gives an insight to a side we don’t often see, if ever; it’s a vulnerability, albeit for a flash of time, that is cuddled by a laugh to remove unease and temper that moment.
Or maybe there’s nothing more to it.
“Own your decisions and own who you are without apology”- Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour delivers her masterclass in a matter of fact way that tells you she may be what you think she is; inaccessible, but she is a better leader for it. And on the other side of the coin is a woman deeply passionate about what she does and understands the impact of her position to a wider industry and more important what that means to the people on the outside looking in. Vogue, whatever one’s thoughts, and I have plenty, is what it is today because of Wintour, the power, influence and reputation as the fashion industry’s “bible”. To be in the pages of Vogue, in the age of social media influence, counts for something, it carries weight in certain rooms and has been known to change lives. Its relevance in the age of social media noise is often being questioned, but that aside, one cannot dispute its social standing. Therefore it makes sense that Wintour would be invited to teach a masterclass, to give a glimpse into how the pages of the book is put together, the process that goes into it, and the leadership style that defines the narrative. The power of her influence over the fashion industry, and the way in which her words define an entire season on the fashion calendar. As aloof as one might assume she is, there are glimpses that confirm her pulse on social media especially when she refers to an article on The Cut that profiled women who interviewed with her and what they wore to the interview; a thing which she says she pays no mind to.
She is aware, very much so.
The fashion landscape is still very much one dimensional therefore when she gives us a look inside Vogue, her words are at times at odds with what we see, simply put her table is still very white, peppered with one or two diverse players. Diversity remains a challenge for much of fashion but Wintour acknowledges this in her Masterclass, whilst talking us through the challenges, highs and lows in her career. This is by no means a play on the perfect, it is an acknowledgement that there is still some way to go.
All in all, this is an incredible masterclass from a woman who is, without question, a leader in one of the most influential industries and is at the bull’s eyes of that influence.
image & video: masterclass