Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor in chief, not only runs an internationally influential magazine, she also supports young designers through a fashion fund and raises money for charity.
Wintour in her usual front-row perch—here at Vera Wang.
Anna Wintour is so renowned in the world of fashion—and, for that matter, in the world at large—that she scarcely needs an introduction. In the 21 years that she has been the editor in chief of American Vogue, Wintour has kept the magazine firmly at the forefront of fashion, matched numerous young designers with venerable brands in need of fresh expertise, and engineered and overseen the launches of Teen Vogue and Men's Vogue. "Fashion reflects the times just as much as a headline in a newspaper does," she says. "If you look at the miniskirts of the sixties or the Chanel suits and jewelry of the eighties, you can see that. Vogue informs the reader about what's going on in the world, not only through fashion but also through politics, the arts, philanthropy, and sports. Fashion does not exist in a vacuum."
Teen Vogue: How did you first become interested in fashion?
Anna Wintour: My father was a newspaper editor, so I was surrounded by journalists my entire life. I think the fact that he was so well known may be why I chose to go into magazines and move to the States at a young age. Everywhere I went [in England], I was being asked if I was Charles Wintour's daughter. But I wanted to make it on my own. I moved to New York in the late seventies, after having worked for five years on a magazine in London, which was fantastic training because the staffs are smaller and you learn all aspects of the business. By the time I came to the States, I really understood how a magazine works. I came to Vogue as creative director, and three years later I went back to London to be editor in chief of British Vogue. I returned to the U.S. to work, very briefly, as editor in chief at House & Garden, and then I came to Vogue.
Teen Vogue: Describe your typical day.
Anna Wintour: There is no typical day. Every day is different, and that's why it's fun. Many things are routine—deadlines, certain meetings—but you never really know what's going to happen.
Teen Vogue: How involved are you with the photos and articles that appear on each page of the magazine?
Anna Wintour: I'm very good at delegating—people work much better when they have a real sense of responsibility. But at the same time, I don't like surprises. I don't pore over every shoot, but I do like to be aware at all times of what's going on.
Teen Vogue: What advice do you have for a young person who is interested in fashion design?
Anna Wintour: Don't go too fast. Because of reality television and all these celebrities thinking they can be designers, everyone imagines that they can just become a designer, photographer, or model, but that's not the way things work. People have to go to school, learn their craft, and build a brand—that's the right, healthy way to do things. If you're an overnight sensation, you can be yesterday's news in no time, whereas building something slowly and carefully that has value and quality, that's what's going to have legs. You'd be amazed at how many people come in here, and they make perfectly nice clothes, but they don't understand how to differentiate their brand from another, or they don't have a business plan, or they don't know where to produce things. Don't run before you can crawl. It's a very hard business, full of many, many extremely creative, talented people who work hard and still fail. If you have the basic building blocks behind you, you're much more likely to do well.
Teen Vogue: When you're hiring someone for an entry-level position at Vogue, what do you look for?
Anna Wintour: I look for someone who has actually read the magazine. People will say, "Oh, I love Vogue," but when I ask them to tell me something specific they liked, or a…