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"I can’t recall a time that has been as full of change, but I also can’t recall a time that’s been as fascinating."

Chapter II

"Jean & Knit"

It’s 8:34 am on a crisp March morning and Wintour is wearing Prada. She welcomes me warmly into her office and we sit down at the famous Alan Buchsbaum desk that has appeared in countless photographs and films. True to reputation, there is one lipstick stained Starbucks cup front and centre, as well as an array of Apple gadgets: an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBook Air.

Behind her, on a silver serving tray sitting on a sideboard, sits a stack of recent issues of American Vogue, including the 800-page September 2016 issue, featuring cover star Kendall Jenner. American Vogue’s September issue remains the most important issue of the most important fashion magazine in the world. But these days Vogue’s September issue carries fewer ad pages than it once did, reflecting the wider decline of print advertising. (The biggest-ever September issue, featuring Lady Gaga and weighing 4.5 pounds, with a total of 916 pages — 658 of them ad pages — was published in 2012.)

Q & A

Imran Amed: What do you think Vogue stood for back in 1892 when it was founded, and how has that changed?


Anna Wintour: Well, I wasn’t around in 1892, believe it or not! But Vogue was a society magazine. It reflects the time in as much as fashion reflects the time. I think that whatever you see on the runways or on the streets, in a movie, on your Instagram feed, whatever it may be, fashion can tell you what’s going on in the world.

Sometimes you need a little bit of distance to understand what it might be. For instance, I was so moved by the [women’s] marches that I asked our features department to find somebody who had actually marched in the ’60s. They found a wonderful writer called Mary Gordon. She had to sneak out of the house, not tell her mother, not tell anybody and go and march, and then sneak back into the house and her family never knew. This time of course, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, boyfriends, husbands, whatever — everybody was marching together. So it was interesting to see how much the world has changed.










IA: Can you recall a time when you’ve had to reflect such a turbulent period though, in terms of the political environment and technology and everything that is changing the world?


AW: Well it’s an overused word, but disruption is the word that you go back to. One of the initiatives I have here in my role as artistic director is that I have regular Editorial Task Force meetings, or ETFs, where we invite leaders from other worlds to come in and talk to the editors-in-chief and the digital leaders and a few other people about what they see happening in their industries, whether it be media or Silicon Valley — we pull them from everywhere.


IA: Yes, this morning, I was watching your speech at the Oxford Union. You said: “This is the problem of very long established companies, they tend to get set in their ways. I’ll be the first to admit that at Condé Nast we have been guilty of arrogance — we are Condé Nast, we have always done it this way. We are so busy working at being the best, being perfect, that we haven’t always been open to disruption. I hope that’s changing.” Is it really changing?


AW: I think it has. I mean it’s really completely reshaping how we do business, how we look at things, how we can be much better partners to everybody that we work with. We are a media company and we reach audiences in ways that we have never done before. It’s absolutely extraordinary the breadth of who we talk to — and in so many different ways, and how interesting that is, and how the news cycle has completely changed — whatever way you’re communicating. So the opportunities are thrilling, they’re daunting too at times, but they’re also thrilling.


IA: But don’t you get frustrated sometimes? Your March issue, which had all those amazing women on the cover was making a specific effort to be reflecting a more inclusive view...


AW: It wasn’t the first time. We did a whole issue last January on diversity.


IA: But still the feedback — and you get instant feedback — and people say, “Oh, well this has been Photoshopped and it’s not diverse enough,” etcetera.


AW: And it wasn’t Photoshopped! What you learn over the years working here is that we’re always talked about and sometimes it’s great and sometimes you’d be amazed what people focus on. But you know where your heart is and what the editors and the photographers and what everybody here is trying to do, and that’s what you have to stand by. If you worry about every little tiny criticism, you won’t get up in the morning. It just comes with the territory.

"I can’t recall a time that has been as full of change, but I also can’t recall a time that’s been as fascinating."

"I can’t recall a time that has been as full of change, but I also can’t recall a time that’s been as fascinating."

"I can’t recall a time that has been as full of change, but I also can’t recall a time that’s been as fascinating."

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