Has Anna Wintour killed Vogue?

With the recent announcement of the Met Gala’s 2020 dress code, and her 70th birthday having just passed, Anna Wintour’s influence within fashion and popular culture as a whole, are thrust back into the spotlight. Known for her iconic bob-sunglasses combination, and being the inspiration behind Meryl Streep’s role in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, the American Vogue editor is one of the most respected figures within her industry. Born in 1949, Wintour climbed the ranks to British Vogue editor by 36, where she was quoted by the London Daily Telegraph saying “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 the money of their own and a wide range of interests.” Just a few years later, now editor of American Vogue, Wintour began the slow descent into the very same rhetoric she aimed so desperately to avoid.

Throughout her time at American Vogue’s helm, Anna Wintour has emphasized the star-studded network she has created, having contacts littered throughout major industries, from politics to sports, music and film. Wintour’s power has undoubtedly arisen from her disregard for the artistry of those who have come before and favouring celebrities on her covers, rather than hiring professional models – just a few months ago she awarded Kim Kardashian West with her 8th Vogue cover, giving the reality star some much-needed publicity, of course. Gone are the days of haute couture and runway-ready models, now we can only guess which celebrity will be basking in the magazine’s limelight.

The once prestigious fashion magazine has flailed in the past few years, as celebrity culture has sunk its claws in. One distinction often made is the difference between a good editor and a great Vogue editor; Anna Wintour can be a great editor, after all, she gathered enough financial support in during her first few years to revitalise the magazine (which had begun to stagnate compared to new startups like Elle), restoring it to its former glory in relation to its monopoly over other publications. The September 2012 edition, under Wintour’s editorship, had 912 pages, the most ever for a monthly magazine, but this doesn’t mean that she has a flair for fashion. A great Vogue editor is one that has a strong perception of the brand’s image — the fashion needs to be striking, and the photography strong. As we witness the transformation of British Vogue under Edward Enninful, we can only anticipate how its American cousin will transform under the leadership of another. 

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Imogen Ince

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May 2022
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