(North London Collegiate School 1963 - 1966)
Since 1988, when she became Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour has been fashion's fiercest force of nature.
Born in November 1949, from a young age Anna developed an eye for aesthetics and an enthusiasm for the publishing world. Her father was the editor of the Evening Standard, and often consulted her on how to make the newspaper appeal more to the youth of London, and her stepmother was the founder of publications such as Honey and Petticoat. Anna was destined to follow in their great footsteps.
During her education at North London Collegiate School, Anna showed a passion for fashion, frequently rebelling against the school's dress code by shortening the hems of her skirts. This seemed to pre-empt what was to come, as notoriously Anna has been known to cut off as much as 8" from the hems of clothes, without consulting the designers. Writing in the school magazine in 1966, she reviews "London's discotheques", paying particular attention to current styles, and noting that ‘the most way-out outfits are the expected uniform'. It was in the corridors of NLCS that Anna first sported her trademark pageboy bob, and she describes growing up in the 60s in London and that ‘seeing the revolution go on, made [her] love [fashion] from an early age'.
Having embarked on a career in journalism at just 16, Wintour chose not to go to university and began a training program at Harrods and then left, later saying, ‘you either know fashion or you don't'. In 1970, the publications Harper's Bazaar and Queen merged, and although the promising new magazine hired Wintour as an editorial assistant, she made no secret of the fact that she wanted ultimately to be the editor in chief of Vogue. After Harper's, Wintour became the fashion editor of ‘Viva', a women's magazine, fashion editor of ‘Savvy' in 1980, and in 1981 the fashion editor of New York. It was in 1983 that Wintour entered the Vogue family, becoming the magazine's first creative director, and then in 1986 at the age of 37, the editor of British Vogue.
Wintour, with her reputation for being very demanding, earned the nickname ‘Nuclear Wintour'. She was been responsible for the radical and revolutionary change British Vogue saw in the 1980s, a period which staff members called "The Wintour of Our Discontent" , and in 1988, she was appointed editor of American Vogue. With her natural instinct for fashion, Anna created a phenomenal impact on the fashion industry almost immediately, with a worldwide ‘bidding war' for the models she chose for Vogue's covers, and she introduced different such editions of the magazine as Teen Vogue and Men's Vogue. More than an editor, she is the figurehead of a $160 billion industry, and is recognised as one of the most powerful figures in fashion, dubbed by The Guardian the ‘unofficial mayoress' of New York.
Despite her icy reputation, Anna is a professional mother of two and a distinguished philanthropist, and since 1990 has raised over $10 million for Aids charities. She takes an active part in the careers of up and coming designers, presiding over the introduction of the CFDA (Vogue Fund) which encourages and mentors unknown fashion designers. As Manolo Blahnik said ‘it seems as if she can smell something on them, and then she goes ahead and brings it out of them'.
Written & researched by: Roxanne Alexander (Yr 12)