SynopsisFashion icon Anna Wintour was born in London, England, on November 3, 1949. She is the eldest daughter of Charles Wintour, the editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper. Wintour landed the editorship of American Vogue in 1988. She revived the publication and became one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry, known widely for her iconic pageboy haircut and chilly demeanor.
Early LifeBorn on November 3, 1949, in London, England, to newspaper editor Charles Wintour and philanthropist Elinor Wintour, magazine editor Anna Wintour has become an international fashion icon in her role as editor-in-chief of the highly influential Vogue magazine. She is known for her oversized dark glasses, high heels, sharp bob hairstyle and icy demeanor.
Early Editorial CareerLong before Vogue, however, Anna Wintour started out in the fashion department of Harper's & Queen in London. Over the years, she rose up the editorial ladder and bounced from publication to publication between New York and London. In 1976, she moved to New York and took over as fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar. Still in her 20s and still in New York, Wintour left Harper's for a job at Viva, a publication owned by the same outfit that managed Penthouse. There, Wintour essentially became the magazine's fashion department, cutting her teeth as a high-end editor and manager. Wintour spent generously on photographers and shoots, arranging for expensive trips to places like the Caribbean and Japan.
Rise to the TopIn 1986, two years after she married South African psychiatrist David Shaffer, Wintour returned to London as chief editor of the Condé Nast-owned British Vogue. Not surprisingly, Wintour had her own ideas about the magazine and where it needed to go.
"I want Vogue to be pacy, sharp, and sexy, 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," she told the London Daily Telegraph. "There is a new kind of woman out there. She's interested in business and money. She doesn't have time to shop anymore. She wants to know what and why and where and how."
Her next big makeover came in 1987 with another Condé Nast publication, Home and Garden, where she summarily changed the publication's title to HG and managed to reject nearly $2 million of already-paid-for photos and articles.
Taking Charge at VogueWintour's stay at HG didn't last long. In 1988 she was named editor-in-chief of Vogue, allowing for her return to New York. The move by Condé Nast came at a time when its signature fashion publication was at a crossroads. A magazine that had been at the forefront of the fashion world since the early 1960s, Vogue suddenly found itself losing ground to a three-year-old upstart, Elle, which had already reached a paid circulation of 850,000. Vogue's subscriber base meanwhile, was a stagnant 1.2 million.
Fashion PowerhouseDespite her claims to the contrary, Wintour became a force in the fashion world, not only through her decisions about what to feature in her magazine, but also by breaking in newer designers and celebrating their styles. She helped make the careers of such designers as Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. In recent years, her work has made her a power broker between designers and retailers. In 2006, she initiated a deal between men's designer Thom Browne and Brooks Brothers, which resulted Brown's work appearing in 90 of the retailer's stores.
One of Wintour's former assistants, Lauren Weisberger, wrote The Devil Wears Prada (2003), a fictionalized account of her days at Vogue. Her main character, played by Meryl Streep, was a demanding boss not unlike Wintour. The book was made into a film in 2006, and Wintour turned heads when she arrived at the film's premiere dressed in Prada. This move showed critics and fans alike that Wintour was not without a sense of humor.