Her straightforwardness, and creative ideas lead her to become one of the most respected icons in the fashion industry. Upholding her title as editor-in-chief of a very well known magazine since 1988, Anna Wintour has personally made Vogue, her very own successful empire.
With the magazine industry predicted to decline due to the easy access of online news because of smartphones and tablets, Vogue, other wise known as the “fashion bible,” still has 11.4 million annual readers world wide and about 1.2 million visitors to the magazine’s website. There doesn’t seem to be anything the world famous editor-in-chief cannot face head on. In fact, just last year in March she was crowned the title of artistic director of Condé Nast, which is a mass media company based in New York City attracting around 164 million consumers because of their fashion and lifestyle publication magazines such as;
- Teen Vogue
- Vanity Fair
- The New Yorker
- W and Wired
Charles H. Townsend, who is the company’s executive director also praised her during her promotion and explained that “Anna has been the driving force behind the success of Condé Nast, so it is a great privilege to extend her influence beyond the Vogue brand to the rest of the organization.”
In a documentary that focused on Anna Wintour’s preparation for the fall 2007 issue, which made $220,416 during opening weekend and grossed about $3,820,700 by the end of 2010, showed how influential she really is. One scene in particular from the documentary revealed how world famous fashion designers and fashion directors of reputable companies waited patiently until she came in and swiftly made decisions for all of them, without batting an eye lash. Another televised glimpse of her life was again aired in, Anna Wintour: Bloomberg Game Changers as well, where she is deemed, “one of the most powerful voices in the world of fashion.”
Anna Wintour was born in 1949 to American philanthropist Elinor Wintour and Charles Wintour. Her father was an editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard in London, so she was raised in a household that revolved around journalism. During her teen years, she had a passion for London’s life, fashion, and 1960’s culture even dropping out of school to focus on what she loved.
Although Anna was born into a considerably wealthy family, she started out small like many others, chasing their dreams in their early 20’s. She began working in the fashion department of a newly developed magazine called Harper’s & Queen. There, she became extremely competitive with others, as she would only work with the best photographers for her photo shoots in order to get noticed for promotion. However, after five years of working with the British Magazine, she was passed over for the job of editor-in-chief .
Chasing the dream in New York City
Saddened by this, Anna left London and moved to New York City 7th avenue in 1975, where she met fashion designer Vera Wang, a friend she has known for over 30 years. Back then, both were just young girls looking to make things happen in the busy streets of NYC. Anna’s first job in New York City was at Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion editor, where she was unanimously fired for being, “too European,” for the magazine’s taste.
Despite being unemployed for a few months, her thirst for success never dried out. Accepting a job offer at a women’s magazine called Viva, from publisher Bob Guccione, she excelled once again as fashion editor. Her photo shoots were held in far away lands like Japan and tropical islands like the Caribbean, which were expensive, but paid off in the end. In a few years time, she landed the role as fashion editor of New York magazine in 1981.
Stepping foot into Vogue
Si Newhouse and Alexander Liberman, who were the owners of the company, Condé Nast, soon took notice of her incredible talent and drive to succeed. Because of her love for the industry, she got the job as creative director of Vogue, however it wasn’t her first choice at all. The job she was actually aiming for was editor-in-chief of Vogue, which during that time was already occupied by Grace Mirabella. Anna Wintour’s views as creative director always clashed with Mirabella’s. After three years of heated disagreements between the two women, Condé Nast gave Anna the position of editor-in-chief of British Vogue in 1986.
As soon as she got off the plane, she went straight to work re-designing the magazine from the inside out. She made it more accessible to readers of all ages and even a bit relatable for those looking for affordable clothing. In a London Daily Telegraph interview, she explained in her own words why she decided to change the magazine so dramatically, “there is a new kind of women out there. She’s interested in business and money. She doesn’t have time to shop around anymore. She wants to know what and why and where and how.”
After only 18 months overseas in Britain, the company owners of Condé Nast brought her back to NYC to make over another company magazine called Home and Garden. Immediately she got straight to work. She renamed the magazine to HG, and rejected about $2 million worth of photos as well as articles that were already pre-paid for. She replaced pictures of beautifully decorated rooms with celebrities in their lavish settings. This all started a riot with subscribers, who all felt that the magazine was not what it used to be, and the company was forced to refund the subscriber’s money.
The new editor in chief of Vogue magazine
Yet Anna Wintour’s career did not end there as the owners of Condé Nast decided another future was in store for her. She was to replace Grace Mirabella, who had the position for 17 years, as the new editor-in-chief of American Vogue. At 38 years old, she got the position she has wanted for so many years. Her first magazine cover was of a young model wearing a $10,000 top with a $50 pair of jeans. Because of this cover, she was the first to mix and match low end pieces with high end merchandises-creating a new era in itself. She was even gutsy and fearless enough to bring on celebrities as covers for Vogue’s issues instead of supermodels, because to her, celebrities, power, and fashion mix together perfectly.
Vogue now headed by Wintour was becoming more than just a fashion catalog it was becoming a brand. Whether it’s marketing, franchising, advertising-Anna is involved in all parts of the magazine. She thinks beyond her title as editor-in-chief that she has even launched Teen Vogue, Men’s Vogue, and Vogue Living. However after only a year, Men’s Vogue revenue dropped to a staggering 1 million dollars in 2008, followed by another disappointment in Vogue Living. Only Teen Vogue survived the wreckage of risky brand extension. Instead of being looked down upon because of this, Anna is praised because of her risks. To her, if something fails, she learns from it and moves on to the next venture in business like manner. She is always looking forward.
Becoming the monumental powerhouse of the fashion industry
Her charity events have proven to be influential as well. Each year Wintour throws a fundraising event at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has brought over 50 million dollars. Even Fashion Night Out, which encourage all consumers to shop around and support the fashion industry, is hosted by Vogue. Politics has also proven to be her strong suit because in 2012 she hosted a fundraising event with Scarlet Johansson called “Runway to Win,” for Barack Obama, featuring the then senator’s related styles created by DVF, Tory Burch, and other famed designers. And by new designers, she is lovingly called “the fairy god mother,” as she helped launch the careers of Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs. She also became someone of importance to have present at a runway shows, marking the spectacle valid and “cool.”
She has not only revolutionized Vogue magazine, but also the entire industry of fashion. For many years she has told people what to wear, when to wear, and how to wear it. Famous celebrities such Oprah Winfrey has even taken her advice on losing a bit of weight before appearing in the pages of Vogue. Even the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, is rumored to be a true story based on her character.
Through all her hard work, she now has a net worth of $35 million, and has built an empire surrounding Vogue. It is important to note that Vogue magazine did not fall into her lap and she wasn’t born to inherit the magazine. She got the job as editor-in chief-of Vogue because she worked for it. She’s had to face disappointment, failure, and unemployment like many of us, but she never gave up on her goal. Even now she continues to have a strong hold on the industry because of her hard work, courage to go after what she wants, and her love for fashion.
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