‘A’ as in ‘Alexander McQueen’. Alexander McQueen belongs to the now famous group of fashion designers who launched their careers under the guidance of Anna Wintour, a fashion icon and Vogue's editor-in-chief. In 2003, she co-founded the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund mentoring programme for the support of talented young designers from Manhattan.
‘B’ as in ‘benefactor’. Philanthropy and charity work have been important to Anna Wintour for decades. In the 1980s, she was already heavily involved in raising general awareness of HIV and in collecting funds for clinical research. ‘We at Vogue and all those in the fashion industry have lost many beloved and talented friends,’ she has stated when speaking about AIDS.
‘C’ as in ‘Condé Nast’. Even back in 1987 (when Anna Wintour worked for the company's House and Garden magazine), the company owning and publishing Vogue, Condé Nast, had such faith in this editor-in-chief, who was boldly bringing changes to the company's magazines, that her salary was defined as ‘in excess of $200,000 plus a $25,000 annual allowance for clothes and other amenities’. In 2013, Anna Wintour was appointed as the artistic director of the entire publishing empire.
‘D’ for the devil in The Devil Wears Prada. In 2003, Anna Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger wrote a fictional story based on her time working at Vogue. In a film adaptation of the book, the devil wearing Prada was portrayed by Meryl Streep. The allusion to Anna Wintour was obvious, and she proved her good sense of humour by attending the premiere in Prada!
‘E’ as in ‘Eleanor Wintour’. Anna Wintour’s mother is a philanthropist from whom Anna gained her sense of social responsibility.
‘F’ as in ‘fashion’. ‘Vogue is a fashion magazine, and a fashion magazine is about change,’ said Anna Wintour soon after stepping into the shoes of editor-in-chief, in 1988. Her first cover featured a 19-year-old girl wearing a Christian Lacroix jacket and Guess jeans while bathed in bright sunshine. The contrast against the previous covers, with their portraits of ‘perfect’ models in carefully controlled studio settings, was so radical that the printers called to verify that the photograph was really intended to go on the cover!
‘G’ as in ‘global’. Anna Wintour has compared Vogue to global brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola. She says: ‘I want to enhance it, I want to protect it, and I want it to be part of the conversation.’
‘H’ as in ‘hairstyle’. Anna Wintour's hairstyle has remained constant over the years. That sharp pageboy bob, along with high heels and oversized dark sunglasses, has become her trademark.
‘I’ as in ‘investor Shelby Bryan’. Shelby Bryan is Anna Wintour's long-term partner, with whom she lives in New York.
‘J’ as in ‘journalism’. Journalism is in Anna Wintour’s blood: her father, Charles Wintour, was the editor of a British newspaper with a strong pedigree, the Evening Standard.
‘K’ as in ‘Kim Kardashian’. The cover of this April’s Vogue featured Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The photograph caused a great deal of controversy in the social media; many considered the beautiful socialite an unsuitable choice for a Vogue cover. Anna Wintour responded to the doubters: ‘Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it. I think we can all agree on the fact that that role is currently being played by Kim and Kanye to a T. (Or perhaps that should be to a K?).’
‘L’ as in ‘London’. Anna Wintour was born into a wealthy family in London on 3 November 1949, and the city would remain with her.
‘M’ as in ‘mixing’. ‘I'm not interested in the super-rich or infinitely leisured. I want our readers to be energetic, executive women, with money of their own and a wide range of interests,’ Anna Wintour has characterised the target group of her magazine.
‘N’ as in ‘nine hundred sixteen’. Vogue celebrated its 120th birthday in 2012 with the thickest ever issue of the magazine – it weighed in at a hefty 916 pages!
‘O’ as in ‘Obama’. Anna Wintour's interest in politics has grown with each passing year. She supported the fund-raising efforts of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in both 2008 and 2012. And First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the cover of the Vogue Power Issue in 2009 and 2013.
‘P’ as in ‘pop stars’. One of Anna Wintour's most controversial yet most praised choices as Vogue's editor‑in-chief has been to present movie stars and singers in the cover photographs. It was a long time before other fashion magazines followed suit.
‘Q’ as in ‘Queen Elisabeth’. In 2008, Anna Wintour was appointed to the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of her services to the British fashion industry in the US.
‘R’ as in ‘reluctant’. Anna Wintour is one of the most influential and therefore among the most followed public names in the fashion world. However, she presents herself as a somewhat reluctant public personality.
‘S’ as in ‘Shaffer’. In 1984, Anna Wintour married doctor David Shaffer, who held the title Chief of Child Psychiatry at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Their son, Charlie Shaffer, was born in 1986 and daughter Katherine, known as Bee, in1987. Some say she wore Chanel miniskirts even when pregnant, only loosening the zip a little to accommodate her growing tummy. The couple divorced in 1999.
‘T’ as in ‘tennis’. Anna Wintour is said to play tennis at six every morning, after which she gets her hair and make-up done and reaches her desk at the Vogue office by eight.
‘U’ as in ‘ubiquitous sunglasses’. Some believe her sunglasses have corrective lenses and are required because of poor eyesight. She herself has described them instead as her armour, helping to cover her reactions at fashion shows so as not to reveal them to everyone instantly.
‘V’ as in ‘Vogue’. In 1983, Anna Wintour began working as a creative director at Vogue in New York; three years later, she became editor-in-chief of the British Vogue; and she was chosen to be editor-in-chief of the US Vogue in 1988 –a position she still holds today, an impressive 26 years later!
‘W’ as in ‘waiting time’. Unlike many other divas, Anna Wintour always arrives at fashion shows in plenty of time. She says she uses the ‘waiting time’ for phone calls and notes, adding that many of her best ideas have come to her at fashion shows.
‘X’ as in ‘Xmas tree’. As everyone knows, Anna Wintour loves straight lines and clean spaces. As if to prove this, last Christmas saw her producer daughter Bee post a photo on Instagram showing a pile of Christmas presents leaning against a bare wall – apparently, Anna Wintour had thrown the Christmas tree out because it was too messy!
‘Y’ as in ‘youth’. Anna Wintour has said the following of her youth and anticipation: ‘Growing up in London in the 60’s, you’d have to have had [photographer] Irving Penn’s sack over your head not to know something extraordinary was happening in fashion.’
‘Z’ as in ‘zzzz’. Though PR work is part of Anna Wintour's job, she rarely spends more than 20 minutes at any party and usually goes to bed at 10:15pm every day.
Text: Tiia Soininen
Photo: Corbis Images