Is Anna Wintour really a bitch, or just doing her job?
There was so much fanfare when The September Issue first came out, with everyone caught up in the hype of “Anna, the Ice Queen” and “Anna, the Bitch” and “Anna, the Hardcore Alien” it was hard to assess the movie objectively because as usual, all the hype pointed in one direction. I, for one, definitely wanted to see it for the sole reason of judging what Anna was actually like in, you know, almost-real-life.
I wanted to see her cut-throat ways and watch her spiking staff with her whiplash tongue first hand. I wanted the camera to be in an elevator when Anna stepped in and watch the look of fear on the faces of those cowering out of her way.
This is the Anna I was expecting. Like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Someone vicious and uncaring and completely insensitive of other people’s feelings.
What I got though, was a woman who was very busy editing one the world’s most successful magazines. She does her job, which yes, involves flitting to Europe for the shows every season and meeting with designers and department stores and talking with staff and being involved in every aspect of the magazine and taking her time to decide on the font size of the front cover because, well, that is her job.
If she happens to be abrupt it’s probably because she has to bolt off to meet Marc Jacobs or Karl Lagerfeld or the CEO of Barney’s or indeed, her boss Si Newhouse. If she doesn’t like something or chooses to pull a fashion shoot because she thinks it’s not Vogue-worthy, or rejects the clothes for a shoot, that’s her prerogative. That’s what she’s paid to do. Because she does it well - so well in fact, it’s what she’s been doing for the past 21 years.
For those who aren’t obsessed with fashion like moi and think I’m talking about Anna … (Karenina? Kournikova? Anna and the King?) please let me enlighten you: Anna Wintour is the Editor of US Vogue, which is the absolute pinnacle of high fashion because it sells so many copies in a country with a huge population. Therefore, her influence is such that she wields the power to make or break designers with one nod of her signature bobbed head.
The September Issue is a documentary made about US Vogue’s September issue, their biggest mag of the year (usually about as thick as the White Pages - pre-internet White Pages mind you). The “fictional” Hollywood movie, The Devil Wears Prada, was based on Anna’s life and she wore, I’m sure absolutely intentionally, Prada to the premiere.
What the documentary shows is that she’s just a woman doing her job and it bugs me that people think she’s an ice queen and a bitch while she does it. Must I say it (and it appears I must) that if it was a man doing her job, he wouldn’t be an ass who only did things to get his way and treated the staff callously just because he could. He’d be a tough boss who believed in his vision and who wasn’t prepared to let anything sub-standard pass through, no matter how close to deadline they were.
All that kerfuffle about her demanding outrageous requests and putting unfair stress on her staff and not wanting certain things to go in or making them reshoot things, well, that’s part and parcel of her job. It comes with the territory. I didn’t see anything that outrageous and was in fact, kind of disappointed there wasn’t one raise of her voice or mean shout out to her assistant. If she’s indeed that fierce, wouldn’t we have seen it? They filmed for nine months and she had no say on the editing of the film.
As for all those who fell in love with Creative Director Grace Coddington after seeing it, so did I. She’s a genius, unparalleled in the industry when it comes to fashion shoots. But she’s not the editor of the magazine and her role, whilst extremely large and influential, is not that of Editor in Chief. She doesn’t do half of what Anna does because, well, it’s not her job. Anna’s job is to do the entire magazine. Grace does the fashion.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way Anna handles herself. So she’s not warm and cuddly. So what? Would we expect a man to dish out the smiles and friendly jibes? Nope.
Then we shouldn’t treat Anna differently then, as far as I’m concerned.
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