The streets of New York City are bustling with yellow taxis and camera flashes under fluorescent billboards and towering skyscrapers. Swarms of models rush to make their call time, as eager photographers trail behind. Celebrities are draped in designer garments tailored to their very inch, with a red carpet laid beneath their feet. Each year, Fashion Week brings on fresh trends, vexed controversies, and wild scandals. Yet, season after season and collections alike, there is one truth of which we can always be sure.
In the very front row sits a pair of pitch-black sunglasses, perched upon the nose of a delicate face framed by a sleek bob. Showcasing elegant haute-couture as only she could, her influence is respected among all within the fashion industry, and her approval remains the golden ticket to success. Many consider her the most powerful figure in fashion as she has revolutionized it like no other. She is not hidden, yet she is not accessible. But then again, she doesn’t need to be — she’s Anna Wintour.
Flashback to London in the sixties: a fashion revolution fuelled by the emancipation of women and the end of the class system. Picture a young Anna, sitting on her father’s lap, filling out a school worksheet about career goals and dream jobs. She turns to him and asks him what he thinks she should write down, and without hesitation, he tells Anna that she would one day become the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine. Nearly three decades later, she discovered that he was right.
Today, Anna Wintour is widely considered the director and producer of a 300 billion-dollar industry. She is involved in every aspect, from trend forecasting to talent discovery, and everything in between. If Anna doesn’t like a designer’s piece, they likely aren’t going to make it. If she doesn’t like a photographer’s work, they’ll probably hit a standstill. In fact, no one was wearing fur until Anna put it back on the cover of Vogue and ignited a trend rebirth. Some refer to Vogue Magazine as the Bible of the fashion world, and Anna is the Pope.
As the summer months come to an end, Anna prepares for the most pivotal time of the year. September is January for those in fashion. It signifies the launch of New York Fashion Week, the release of debut collections, and the premiere of wearable art, one might say. But for Anna and her team at Vogue, it alludes to much more — the highly anticipated, groundbreaking September Issue.
Year after year, Vogue outdoes itself by publishing yet another astonishing piece, bringing new light to fashion and transforming the industry in the process. In 2012, Vogue released its largest issue in history, weighing in at over five pounds and 940 pages of fearless fashion, proving just how powerful and borderless fashion can truly be. Everyone wants to get into the September Issue — whether it be models, designers, photographers, or stylists. But just because you contribute to the September Issue, doesn’t mean you make it to print.
Vogue’s very own former creative director, Grace Coddington, will be the first to tell you that. Grace has idealized and put together some of Vogue’s most renowned fashion spreads, yet even her work has often struggled to make it past Anna’s vision. As blunt as she is, Anna has been ahead of fashion for decades and has called shots for the industry before she’s even had the time to sip her breakfast tea. It is this very accuracy and honesty that makes her as respectable and idolized as she is.
In 1989, Naomi Campbell graced magazine stands worldwide as the first black model to be featured on the cover of Vogue’s September Issue — Anna’s first revolutionary play. The late nineties introduced Renee Zellweger’s cover, as she foresaw the immense rise of celebrity influence in fashion, and the September Issue soon became clad with A-listers. In 2015, she featured Andreja Pejic, front and center, honouring her as Vogue’s first transgender model. Since the beginning of her reign, Anna has brought unprecedented waves to the fashion world, stirring up controversy while fighting for inclusivity and diversity.
Sitting at 29 years of pure dedication and diligence to Vogue, one can only wonder how much longer the 67-year-old icon will continue to display her unique vision on glossy paperbacks month-by-month. Is a grand exit from the fashion industry even a thought in the back of her mind? And what will happen afterwards: who could even think to take her place? Anna’s shoes are tough to fill — and not just because they’re couture. There is no way to know what her next move will be in fashion, as mysterious and unpredictable as she is.
There’s really only one thing that we can count on: In the very front row sits a pair of pitch-black sunglasses, perched upon the nose of a delicate face framed by a sleek bob. Showcasing elegant haute-couture as only she could, her influence is respected among all within the fashion industry, and her approval remains the golden ticket to success.