On the eve of her 60th birthday, Anna Wintour, fashion’s imperious ice queen, seems to be coming in from the cold, writes Sharon Krum.
For 21 years, Anna Wintour has been famous for her ice-queen reputation. She's been called Vogue’s "feted dominatrix", a dragon, a bitch — and probably the most inventive nickname, "Nuclear Wintour".
Meryl Streep immortalised her in The Devil Wears Prada and the new hit documentary, The September Issue, has only cemented the US Vogue editor-in-chief's status as the only woman in the world who can run a magazine, anoint designers, dictate fashion trends and make underlings quake, all with one sharp word.
"She could be late to every fashion show in the world and they would hold it for her," says fashion journalist Marylou Luther. "She has more power than anyone in fashion."
Notoriously private for two decades, British-born Anna was the razor-thin fashion editor with the trademark bob and Jackie O sunglasses who became a myth by saying precious little. Suddenly, however, on the eve of turning 60, Anna has come in from the cold, appearing on the big screen, joking with US talk-show host David Letterman and signing autographs for regular folks at a shopping mall.
"It's weird when you go out with her and you hear photographers calling, 'Anna, Anna, Anna'," says her daughter, Bee Shaffer, who, at 22, is not above receiving her own fashion critiques from her mother.
"I was going on a date and she told me to change, but I didn’t listen," says the feisty Bee. "I don't think of her as being famous."
Yet Anna Wintour is now a bona fide celebrity — and, fascinatingly — it's all been her choice. Rumours have flown in gossipy New York that the frosty, imperious Anna might be replaced with fresh blood: someone sexier, such as French Vogue's Carine Roitfeld or Russian Vogue's Aliona Doletskaya.
"Anna has decided to come out of hiding in recent months because she's actually fearful of her position at Vogue," says Jerry Oppenheimer, author of Front Row: Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue’s Editor in Chief.
"Sixty is a turning point for every woman, especially one so high-profile and conscious of looks and beauty. Then, the magazine business is in trouble; there are cutbacks at Condé Nast [Vogue's parent company]. I think she worries her time may be up. Anna is a great politician and she’s like a candidate out there campaigning."
Read more about Anna Wintour in the November issue of The Australian Women's Weekly out now with Sarah Murdoch on the cover.
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