She is influential, intimidating and en vogue - Anna Wintour is considered one of the most important figures in the fashion industry: the dreaded fashion queen in an interview about her extraordinary career, her reaction to the book "The Devil Wears Prada" and the appeal of imperfection.
Her name makes some wince, but it has already given the careers of others the decisive boost: In 1988, Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of American Vogue, advanced the magazine to the fashion bible and to this day she sets the tone for the trillion dollar fashion industry worldwide.
However, her influence does not end with her involvement with Vogue: Among other things, she founded the US fashion association CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), which provides mentors for young creative people, supports the democratic party in the USA, and is artistic Director of Condé Nast and, since 1995, co-chair of the Met Gala, a charity event that is high on the agenda for stars.
Anna Wintour's father, Charles Wintour, was a political editor for the Evening Standard in London and was a great inspiration to young Anna. “I really enjoyed growing up in a house full of interesting and diverse personalities,” recalls Anna Wintour. “My father was always very social and wanted everyone around him to be part of his life. We always had lively discussions and a lot of people from the art and film industries came and went. My mother was a film critic. This also contributed a lot to our family culture."
When asked how she got into the fashion world, Wintour explains: “I grew up in London in the 1960s. During this time I have seen many changes in London. Cultural conventions were broken and society changed overnight. It was a strong visual experience for me that left a lasting mark on me."
In 1970 Wintour started her career as a fashion journalist with Harpers & Queen. “Working in London is very different from working in New York. I was part of a very small team and gained insights into different topics at an early stage.”A few years later, however, she was fired, which seems unimaginable in view of her current career. “You were very clear in your decision at the time. While reporting on a Paris show, I decided that the models should appear with dreadlocks. That was probably more than the magazine could take."
"I think that failure and success are part of life and that losing a job is just as important for a career as it is to win one."
Anna Wintour is often said to be a badass perfectionist. Does she ever make mistakes and which one was her biggest? “Everyone makes mistakes,” admits the fashion icon. "The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes, that you admit them and not be ashamed of them."
"I've made so many mistakes that I can hardly remember them all."
Lauren Weisberger's debut novel "The Devil Wears Prada" is about the experiences Anna Wintour's former assistant had while working with the editor-in-chief. Wintour doesn't see the book as a breach of trust, but rather as an opportunity: “I think that everyone has the right to their own opinion. I also think that the author - even if she wasn't aware of it at first - in a certain way drew attention to Vogue and fashion,”says Wintour, who incidentally wears a Chanel suit and NOT Prada during the interview.
Kristie Lu Stout conducted the interview on the "Leading Women" show which you watch every last Wednesday of the month at 11:30 am and 6:30 pm on CNN.