Legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour is instantly recognisable with her iconic bob haircut and sunglasses. She has served as editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988. Anna is almost as well known for her ambition, determination and focus, thanks to The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The September Issue (2009).
Anna Wintour is rarely interviewed, so it’s not surprising she declined multiple interview requests for this book. However, journalist Amy Odell chronicles Anna’s ambitious journey to the top of the fashion world. Based on extensive interviews with her closest friends and collaborators, Amy has crafted a revealing portrait of the editor.
As a child, Anna Wintour had no interest in clothing but during the 1960’s she was a fashion obsessed teenager living in London. Her father was the influential editor of the Evening Standard and once it was decided she should become editor in chief of Vogue, she never looked back.
Impatient to begin her career, she left high school and began working at a fashionable boutique in London before finding work in the competitive world of magazines. In time, she moved to New York and battled her way to the top, regardless of who or what stood in her way. Once she was appointed editor-in-chief she has fought to retain her position and become one of the most powerful women in media.
Amy expertly weaves Anna's story into a larger narrative about the complex world of publishing juggernaut Condé Nast and the fascinating dynamics of the fashion industry.
Today, most magazines feature celebrities on covers and feature on-location fashion shoots. However, it was Anna Wintour who spearheaded the practice of featuring celebrities on the cover and took fashion pages out of the studio and onto the street.
I particularly enjoyed the anecdote describing how Anna was seated on a plane next to a random passenger. He said he didn’t think a magazine like Vogue would ever put a pop star like Madonna on its cover, and if they did, it wouldn’t sell! Within a few months, Madonna was featured on the cover of the May 1989 issue and sales soared.
Throughout Vogue’s history, it has reflected and influenced both cultural and social change. The undisputed authority on fashion for over 125 years, Vogue also remains the top magazine for luxury shoppers.
During her tenure, Anna has also witnessed the impact of digital transformation and the decline of print media. Although Vogue magazine still sells millions of copies each month it has tens of millions more followers on social media. Anyone interested in culture, fashion or publishing will enjoy devouring this book.
Amy Odell is a fashion and culture journalist based in New York. She is also the author of Tales from the Back Row. Follow Amy Odell online.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Allen & Unwin, RRP $49.99