Anna Wintour, the daughter of Charles Wintour, former editor of The Evening Standard, and Elinor Baker, was born November 3, 1949 in London, England. She was educated at North London Collegiate School, but dropped out before graduation. In 1970 she began working at fashion magazines in London. In 1986, Wintour became editor of British Vogue, and a year later she became editor of House & Garden. She was able to improve both magazines, and increase their circulation.
After only two years as editor of British Vogue, Wintour was appointed editor-in-chief of the US edition of Vogue. Through this position, she has become an icon in the fashion industry. Wintour’s predecessor at Vogue, Grace Mirabella, had focused the magazine more on lifestyles than on fashion, which worried numerous fashion industry insiders. They feared the magazine would lose its place in the fashion world to the new magazine, Elle. However, under Wintour’s leadership, the magazine returned to its original status and kept its focus on fashion.
Designers seek her approval, and know they need her support in order to make a name for themselves. In return, she has been an avid backer for the fashion industry. She works to create attention for young designers who have not gotten their name out yet. She helped to begin the CFDA/Vogue fund in order to encourage and support undiscovered designers. After September 11, 2001, she organized the sale of t-shirts whose profit would go to a Twin Towers fund. She also took charge of a public relations campaign to get the public shopping again after the attack.
Wintour is noted for her philanthropic work, as well. She is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is also a key fundraiser for various AIDS charities. She has also made it a top priority to recognize Vogue’s mission on social terms. After the fall of Afghanistan, Vogue opened beauty salons and trained Afghan women in beauty skills, thus opening a whole new world to these women. Anna Wintour has also been the target of animal rights organizations such as PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It is no secret that she loves furs, and often pictures them in the fashion spreads of Vogue. They have attacked her on numerous occasions, enough that she says she has “lost count.” PETA is also angered by her refusal to allow the group to fun paid advertisements in the magazine.
The daily regime of Wintour has become legendary to those in the fashion industry. Every day, she wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to play tennis. She is then professionally made up, and chauffeured to the offices of American Vogue. Wintour’s routine never varies. She is also one of the most prolific party throwers in New York City. However, she refuses to stay at a party for longer than the first ten minutes, as she prefers to be in bed by 10:00 p.m.
Anna Wintour has earned a reputation as being rude and difficult to work for, often being accused of taking advantage of her influence and power. In 2003, Lauren Weisberger, Wintour’s former assistant, wrote “The Devil Wears Prada”. Many have said the book was based on Wintour, but Weisberger continues to deny any association, maintaining the book is completely fictional.
Wintour was previously married to David Shaffer, and had two children by him, Charles and Katherine. She is currently romantically linked to Shelby Bryan, a millionaire investor.