Feature illutration by village9991
Recently, Paris Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld stepped down from her position after 10 years at the helm of the highest of holiest of fashion journalism temples. After a mere 10 years, Rotifeld has been quoted as remarking that she is ready to move on to the next thing. Many suspect that that next thing might be US Vogue. The prospect of her expertise at the helm of the American publication has filled me with both excitement and curiosity. But what of the current head honcho? A certain British-American person of extremely high ranking and an outright legend of not only the fashion world, but the world of print: Anna Wintour? If I were a bit campier I would add this effect.
Moving on (hint hint), Wintour has held the same position for over 20 years leaving many to feel as though Vogue were a country ruled by a dictator who won’t let go of the power it has come to attain. However, she isn’t such a bad guy, I would assume. Women in power often get a bad rep because the old powers-that-be still hold on to an image of femininity and rigid gender roles that are unsuitable for the current age. She is still very feared, however, and runs the magazine like a well-oiled machine, which in essence describes the mechanical and distant approach to fashion that has been looming over the fashion realm lately. The American edition of Vogue is a very important magazine and with that power can come the abuse of it.
Having replaced Grace Mirabella, editor-in-chief from 1971 to 1988, Wintour shook things up at the magazine which had become boring in the later years of Mirabella’s reign. Her first cover, November 1988, featured a $10,000 Christian Lacroix T-shirt, paired with jeans. She also brought the Supermodel Years to the forefront and created a new version of the model/celebrity. She changed many things up and made Vogue de rigueur once again. However, having brought the magazine back from the dead, it seems as though she decided that that meant she could dictate the fashion world in a way that was very much authoritarian. She often became secret adviser to designers and threatened them to create looks she could agree with, lest they be left out of the publication. Sometime in the late ’90s/early ’00s, she dumped the models in favor for celebrities and persons-of-note, often demanding they meet her difficult-to-meet standards. For example, she told Oprah Winfrey to loose weight before she graced the cover. She also was a factor in demolishing the grunge movement many designers were trying to embrace by threatening exclusion (but that can be forgiven). After all, the grunge movement was an anti-fashion movement and she tried to save the industry by going on the offensive, effectively changing the style course of the ’90s.
Wintour has many more defenders than detractors. She has been maligned as cold and demanding, but more often than not she is described as blunt and professional. She is a person who knows what she wants and intends to get it. It is safe to say that if she were a man, she would be seen as a go-getter and a leader, not a harpy or a bitch. And true, a douchebag is a douchebag, but that is what takes to run a successful anything. Or is it?
I think she is going the way of her predecessor, in that she has gotten way too comfortable. This definitive publication has become nothing more than the entertainment industry’s plug machine. There is way too much celebrity involved in the run of the magazine, and it spilled over onto designers who favored celebrities in their campaigns rather than models in the latter part of the ’00s. Thankfully, the models have returned, but one cannot deny that the same illusion of the Supermodel she helped create less than a decade before was the same one she almost destroyed. She is responsible for ushering in a new era of American fashion, but that was almost 20 years ago. I don’t want to say that age is a factor, but time definitely is. From the fountain of her work, the grassy knoll of fashion had been replenished. However, that patch of grass is now over-saturated and the earth potentially salted. There is a grace period that one receives in order step down a hero, rather than a villain, and Wintour passed that Olympiad five years ago.
The magazine has lost touch with the new fashion agenda. Even though many people deign to recognize the merits of the younger reader, they are in fact future subscribers, as well as future paying customers. There is nothing more to say that one hasn’t said about the performance of Vogue in recent years (when I say “performance” I don’t mean sales, I mean content). It is quite obvious she is content with it all. This is in no way an attack on her person or her body of work. She is an icon and personal hero of mine, which is why I feel it necessary to be frank. Perhaps with age comes wisdom—however, it is never fashionable to be the last one to leave a party.
And to vosotros:
Don’t be a stranger, but do be stranger.