There’s no point, really, in beating around the bush when it comes to Anna Wintour. So in its recent profile of the Vogue editor-in-chief, fashion decider and all around woman of power, WSJ. magazine went straight to the point — her power. The pulchritudinous golden scepter of influence she wields is large and heavy and often requires its own seat on planes. But the reason Wintour has it in the first place is because she’s forward thinking, has a network of other influential people (including the ones who sign her checks) at her beck and call and is exceptionally good at branding. And she works really, really hard.
The profile in question, which itself has been widely written about since Wintour’s cover shot was posted a few days ago, casts its subject as a revolutionary thinker with an unmatched ability for “imposing her will,” as her boss Conde Nast chairman S.I. Newhouse likes to say. There’s not a lot that we don’t already know in the article — she was among the first to see the values in putting celebrities on the cover of magazines, she got both John Galliano and Marc Jacobs their gigs at LVMH, Fashion’s Night Out was an astounding success, et cetera — but we were surprised that so many people were willing to go on the record to talk about Wintour. A few select former colleagues gave comments for the story after agreeing not to be named, but everyone from Jacobs to Calvin Klein to Harvey Weinstein to Bernard Arnault himself sat down for a few minutes to talk about Anna. Here’s what they (and Wintour) had to say:
Wintour on power-networking:
“There are people who are like beacons, and I’m in the fortunate position that I can meet such people,” she says. It’s hard to imagine Wintour hanging around with these people just because, well, she likes them. “To be in Vogue means something,” she continues, matter-of-factly. “Not all of them become friends, but it’s part of my job to get to know these people and try to understand who they are, what they are and what future they have. I won’t pretend that I’m sitting here with a spreadsheet . . . ‘Now it’s time to reach out to LeBron James.’ It’s instinctive.”
SI Newhouse on making FNO an international affair:
She convened an extraordinary meeting of 30 international Vogue editors and publishers in Paris, to discuss further global initiatives. “It was the first time anybody had gotten them all together,” says S.I. Newhouse, chairman of Advance Publications, which owns Vogue parent Condé Nast. “She didn’t need my authority to do it—she has a remarkable ability to impose her will. If I had had reservations, she probably would have gone ahead anyway.”
Marc Jacobs on saying no to Anna:
… if Wintour does ask for something, there aren’t two possible answers. “If I get a request for something I don’t want to do,” says Marc Jacobs, “first I get an email, then a phone call from someone at Vogue, and now I don’t even bother to say no—I know the next call is from her.”
Wintour on Vogue’s brand:
“With all the new media outlets out there, with all the noise, a voice of authority and calm like Vogue becomes more important than ever. The more eyes on fashion, the more opinions about fashion, the more exploration of fashion around the world, the better it is for Vogue. Vogue is like Nike or Coca-Cola—this huge global brand. I want to enhance it, I want to protect it, and I want it to be part of the conversation.”
You can (and should) read the rest of the profile, including why Newhouse hopes Wintour never leaves Vogue and how well the magazine part of her empire is doing, here.
Brand Anna [WSJ.]