A Series of Female Revolutionaries: Anna Wintour

If you’ve seen the notorious 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, read Vogue Magazine, or looked at photos from the Met Gala, then you, too, have been influenced by Anna Wintour. Known to be one of the most influential and illustrious names in fashion, Wintour dictates pretty much every move the fashion industry makes. 

Since her first edition at Vogue, Wintour has challenged the standard of beauty for women, her first cover of an ensemble of Guess Jeans and a bejeweled Christian Lacroix, contrary to the colored dresses and ball gowns that usually lined newsstand magazines. Many thought this was a mistake; the printers even returned the files back to the desk assuming an error had been made. But Wintour insisted, and subscription rates, advertisement requests, and the sheer page count of the issues soared. For example, The September 2012 issue ran for an astounding 914 pages. Additionally, she pioneered the use of public figures from outside of fashion to the front cover, drawing politicians, athletes, and celebrities.

As avid fans of The Devil Wears Prada will tell you, Meryl Streep’s character Miranda Priestly is based on Anna Wintour. While her defining characteristics are her somewhat irrationally cold demeanor and hard exterior, Priestly’s most notable asset to me is that people across the globe listen to her. Her opinion about designers, trends, colors, and even choice of belt has more weight than almost any other person in the industry. For Vogue, their esteemed editor-in-chief is no different. Wintour seemingly hand-picks the next “it” designer due to her prestige and respect within the fashion community. She also has changed the definition of an icon, rotating through many beginning designers in order to give them a chance to put their name on the map. “Despite her famously public steely persona, Anna has always been hugely encouraging to young people in the industry, particularly designers,” says celebrity stylist Alex Longmore. “She is interested in people’s careers well beneath her own.” WGSN’s Muston agrees, adding, “Much is made of the negativity surrounding her uncompromising work ethic, but she is actually incredibly nurturing of young creatives, ensuring they have the platform to succeed.”

In addition to being chairmen of Vogue, Wintour, is a trustee of the New York Metropolitan Museum, and consequently has an enormous say in the infamous Met Gala event that occurs every year. Spearheaded by Wintour, this event draws guests from across the globe to celebrate the opening of the museum’s annual costume exhibit. All guests dress according to the theme of the exhibition, ensuring that each and every outfit to walk the red carpet is approved by Wintour. In 2014, the costume department was renamed in honor of the work of Wintour to the Anna Wintour Costume Institute. 

Anna Wintour continues to be one of the most compelling voices in the fashion industry, but has spoken out about how sexism has impacted her career. Her presence in a room as an aggressor, she explains, is in part due to the stereotypes of women being in a role of control. “It’s not so much about powerful women,” she said in a Forbes Magazine interview,  “In some cases, there are stereotypes about women. I often don’t hear men talked about in the same way.” 

Despite this, she continues to unapologetically dominate the field, while also showing interest in aspiring artists and creators below her; the ultimate sign of a revolutionary woman.

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