If you’re like me, there’s something that really packs a punch in The Devil Wears Prada. I always hated the cynical undertones of working woman and editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine, Miranda Priestley. The movie painted a bleak image of Miranda and her life’s work, making it seem ultra-superficial and lacking morality. What made it worse was that it was supposedly based on true events.
In real life, Miranda Priestley is Anna Wintour. Not many people can say that they’ve inspired an Oscar-award-nominated comedy classic, but Anna can, under other accolades like editor-in-chief of British Vogue (though she is currently working at the US publication, and has been for 31 years), Better Homes and Gardens, and artistic director of Condé Nast, Vogue’s parent-company.
She is also a Dame of England and the 27th most powerful woman in the world. So yes, she has enough authority to shout at any assistant about Cerulean blue, or anything else she desires, because she knows what she’s doing. In that way, we have been blessed for three decades by a woman who is truly gifted in knowing the winds of fashion. That’s why, just a week ago, when a rumor broke about her leaving, the industry erupted in shock, questions, and think-pieces (hey, this is one of those!)
That’s the thing about fashion – it’s always changing. To stand the test of time, predict trends, and lead an entire industry (all while in a pair of Manolo Blahniks) is a testament to her true ability. She saw the era of McQueen, the couture grunge of the 90’s, the logomania of the 2000’s and the progressiveness of today.
The last few months especially have been taxing. Creative director switch-ups in ready-to-wear and couture brands leave people downright surprised at a week where no one is hired, fired, or hopping brands (Kim Jones, Riccardo Tisci, and Virgil Abloh, I’m looking at you). While this is something Wintour has most likely dealt with in the past, the intensifying speed of change is enough for anyone to need a breather.
On a larger scale, the industry is changing with movements like #MeToo. Overall, women are being treated as women, and less like dress-up toys. Hard political times have pushed the millennial fashion consumer to be more practical, and outspoken in what she wears. Her pieces are loud, screaming for independence, equality, with fervor and pride. The glossy covers of Vogue are an untroubled song, using fragile fashion to soothe the eye and make women look like abstract art. Can a brand like Vogue adapt without changing the DNA of their magazine? Or more importantly, can Anna shift from this current, beautiful illusion into something more relatable?
Throughout decades of change, the industry stayed in balance because of Wintour. She was there to see through the radicalism of trends and turn style into fashion. There’s no doubt that if she makes her exit, fashion will stumble until it finds its path again. So much has ridden on her shoulders that once she takes off that Chanel jacket, all else may fall with it.
If she leaves, it will be after the September issue, in five months. The industry has until then to find someone that can wear Chanel sunglasses like she does, guide designers like she does, run the magazine like she does, formulate fashion the way she does. Or maybe, the new editor-in-chief will be completely different. What do you think?