Anna Wintour is one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry. As the editor-in-chief of American Vogue since 1988, she has shaped trends, launched careers, and built an empire. However, despite her power and success, Wintour has also been a controversial figure, attracting criticism and even hatred from some quarters. In this article, we will explore the key controversies surrounding Anna Wintour and the reasons why she provokes such strong reactions from both fans and critics.
Wintour’s Reign at Vogue
The “Nuclear Wintour” Work Environment
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Anna Wintour is that she fosters a toxic work culture at Vogue. She has gained a reputation for being cold, distant, and demanding of her staff. Her leadership style has earned her nicknames like “Nuclear Wintour” and inspired the infamous Miranda Priestly character in The Devil Wears Prada.
Many former Vogue employees have described a punishing environment at the magazine under Wintour’s stewardship. She was known for her incredibly high standards and for scolding or even firing staff members who did not meet her expectations. Wintour has admitted she is “very driven” and has “high standards”, but denies allegations that she is unfair or abusive to her team.
Unreasonable Levels of Control
As editor-in-chief, Wintour has full control over every page of Vogue. She personally approves every fashion shoot, article, and photograph published. Many critics feel she takes this control too far.
Wintour has been accused of limiting diversity in Vogue’s content. She tends to feature the same small group of A-list models, designers, and celebrities over and over. Critics say she exerts too much control over the fashion industry, only giving exposure to people she approves of.
Wintour has faced accusations of ageism, racism, and body-shaming in her approach to fashion and editing.
In 1999, Wintour raised eyebrows for putting a rail-thin model on the cover of Vogue after the model had just recovered from an eating disorder. Critics said it sent a damaging message about unhealthy body ideals in fashion. There have also been complaints that Vogue under Wintour does not feature enough diversity in age or body type.
In 2020, amid racial reckoning, Wintour faced scrutiny for lack of diversity in Vogue’s pages over the years. The magazine had only featured one Black photographer and two Black cover models in the previous decade. She apologized for “mistakes” and vowed to include more diverse voices going forward.
The Exclusivity of the Met Gala
As a high priestess of fashion, Wintour has chaired the prestigious Met Gala since 1995. She uses her power over the guest list to enforce her vision. Only the rich, famous, and fashionable get inside.
Wintour has been criticized for turning the event into an elitist affair, carefully curating the guest list to only include those deemed A-list enough. The exclusivity she oversees at the Met Gala has made it a focus of resentment from those locked out of fashion’s inner circle.
Wintour’s Personality and Work Style
The “Ice Queen” Persona
Wintour is renowned for her cold, aloof public persona. With her signature sunglasses and stern expression, she has cultivated an image as an ice queen of fashion.
Some appreciate her authoritative nature and professionalism, but others criticize her for being haughty and unfeeling. Her remarks are often terse, blunt or even cutting. This icy demeanor has earned her fear and respect in the industry, but also disdain from some.
allegedly demanding attitude
Wintour has a notoriously perfectionist attitude. She expects top performance and quality from those around her. Her standards are sky-high.
Many describe her as demanding, impossible to please and quick to criticize. She has fired assistants for minor mistakes and maintains strict control over shoots. While some admire her drive, others accuse her of being domineering and bullying in her management style. Her alleged attitude has earned her a reputation as one of the most difficult bosses.
Ruthlessness Towards Competition
Wintour has cultivated a reputation for ruthlessness over her decades steering Vogue. To stay on top in fashion, she has exerted her influence to quash rivals.
Some of her competitive moves deemed underhanded include:
- Banning Vogue from working with models who did catalog work for other magazines
- Refusing to hire photographers who have shot for Harper’s Bazaar
- Marking rival editors’ chairs with her trademark fur throws at fashion shows
Critics accuse Wintour of arrogance and trying to monopolize fashion talent to keep competitors weak. But she makes no apologies for doing what it takes to keep Vogue #1.
Throughout her career, Wintour has been accused of promoting those close to her over more deserving candidates.
She landed her daughter, Bea Shaffer, a job at Vogue in 2017 as a segment producer. Many saw the hire as nepotism since Shaffer had no prior fashion experience.
Wintour also strongly advocated for designer Alexander McQueen early in his career, allegedly because he was her nephew’s boyfriend. Critics feel she plays favorites and uses her clout to advance family and friends.
Cultural Significance and Influence
Commercialization of High Fashion
When Wintour became editor, critics accused her of commercializing Vogue. She made the magazine more celebrity-focused and mass market.
Purists felt she cheapened the brand by chasing profits over high fashion artistry. Her critics believe she cares more about money and fame than upholding couture’s elite standards.
Too Much Power over Fashion
Today Wintour is one of fashion’s most formidable power players. Her influence extends well beyond Vogue. As a tastemaker, one bad review from her can torpedo a designer while her stamp of approval can mint fashion stardom.
Many accuse her of wielding too much influence over an entire industry. They feel fashion’s diversity suffers from being subject to her singular, tyrannical vision. Designers live and die by her sword. Wintour sets strict parameters for what she deems stylish.
Being Out of Touch
Some feel that Wintour’s wealth and privilege make her out of touch with real people and diversity issues.
As gatekeeper to the glamorous world of fashion, Wintour hobnobs with the rich, beautiful elite. Critics say after 30+ years in her Vogue ivory tower, she has lost touch with the everyday concerns of women and marginalized groups. Her reign makes high fashion seem elitist and exclusionary.
Wintour’s Fall from Grace?
In June 2020, Wintour faced intense backlash for past racism both at Vogue and in her personal life. She was called out for marginalizing people of color and fostering discriminatory practices. After years of criticism, the public outrage reached a boiling point.
Calls for Her Resignation
For the first time, there were open calls for Wintour to resign as Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor-in-chief. Critics said her leaving was long overdue and that she should make way for new leadership.
Many believed Wintour and her old guard style had no place in fashion’s future. But Wintour resisted the pressure to step down, issuing an apology instead. She committed to “taking accountability” and evolving Vogue’s inclusion.
Is Wintour’s Career in Jeopardy?
It remains to be seen whether Wintour can weather the storm and hold onto her throne. For decades, her status seemed untouchable. But the recent backlash shows cracks in her teflon armor.
At 70 years old, Wintour is now one of the old established faces. A new generation rejects the elitism and lack of diversity she represents. With Condé Nast facing financial trouble due to COVID-19, it seems unlikely Wintour will remain editor-in-chief for life.
Her career may be approaching its final chapter. Whenever she eventually exits, her successor will have enormous shoes to fill. Wintour has towered over fashion longer than any other editor. Her legacy and influence will be long lasting, whether positive or negative.
Anna Wintour holds a uniquely powerful position in fashion. During her over 30-year reign at American Vogue, her vision and business savvy have made her iconic. But with great power comes heightened scrutiny. Her demanding leadership, elitism, and lack of diversity have fueled resentment from both inside and outside the fashion world.
While some see Wintour as an inspiring pioneer, others view her as a controlling bully who abuses her authority. She has shaped fashion for decades but now faces criticism for limiting its evolution. However one judges Wintour, she has undeniably left a lasting mark. Her eventual exit from Vogue will signal major change for the future of fashion editorial.
Key Controversies Facing Anna Wintour
|Toxic work environment||Anna fosters a punishing culture at Vogue with her perfectionism and harsh management style. Many employees find her controlling and unfairly demanding.|
|Discrimination||She has faced accusations of racism, ageism, body-shaming, and more for a lack of diversity at Vogue. Critics say she only promotes certain elite groups.|
|Elitism||Wintour is seen as elitist for how she shields fashion in exclusivity and turns high fashion into commercial celebrity culture.|
|Nepotism||She has given jobs, exposure, and other advantages to family, friends, and love interests, prompting accusations of favoritism.|
|Too much power||With her unchecked influence over fashion, Wintour controls too much of the industry to the point of limiting diversity and innovation.|
|Out of touch||After 30+ years in her wealthy bubble, some believe Wintour is now out of touch with real people and social justice issues.|
Anna Wintour’s controversies reveal the underbelly of power dynamics and privilege in the fashion world. Her story prompts debates about larger issues like elitism, equality, and cancel culture. While Wintour defined an era at Vogue, her leadership style and lack of inclusion have sparked infamy in recent years. However the rest of her career unfolds, she remains one of fashion’s most renowned and scrutinous figures.
Is Anna Wintour still the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue?
Yes, as of my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, Anna Wintour continues to hold the position of Editor-in-Chief at Vogue.
Has Anna Wintour ever addressed the controversies surrounding her?
Yes, Anna Wintour has addressed some controversies in interviews and statements. However, opinions on the adequacy of her responses vary among critics and supporters.
What is Anna Wintour’s impact on fashion trends?
Anna Wintour’s influence on fashion trends is significant, as she has the power to spotlight designers, styles, and aesthetics through Vogue’s pages and events like the Met Gala.
How has the fashion industry evolved in terms of diversity and inclusivity?
The fashion industry has made strides toward greater diversity and inclusivity, with increased representation of different backgrounds on runways and in campaigns. However, there’s still work to be done.
What is the Met Gala’s purpose beyond its extravagant displays?
The Met Gala serves as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and provides a platform for showcasing fashion as an art form, albeit with evolving interpretations over time.