Anna Wintour – Influential Magazine Editor

Through her 30+career in magazine publishing, Wintour has developed a reputation for being distant and cold. It has been said that she a demanding boss and is difficult to work for, an opinion Wintour doesn’t exactly deny. In 2003, Lauren Weisberger, one of Anna Wintour’s former assistants published the book The Devil Wears Prada, based on her experience working at Vogue magazine. The book was made into a movie in 2006 and Anna Wintour made celebrity magazine and fashion magazine headlines when she showed up to the premiere wearing Prada.

In August 2009, Anna Wintour along with the creation of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine were the subjects of the documentary, “The September Issue.” The documentary shows, for the first time, the demanding work required to produce an issue of Vogue magazine.

Forbes magazine recently reported that though the documentary is touted as “the real Devil Wears Prada,” that “Wintour mostly is portrayed as a professional and a perfectionist with a well-defined vision and an inferiority complex that becomes apparent when she admiringly talks about her three siblings who consider her profession “amusing”; Wintour’s sister, for example, lobbies for farmers’ rights in Latin America.”

Anna Wintour was born in 1949, in London, England, to newspaper editor Charles Wintour and his wife, philanthropist Elinor Wintour. As a teenager, Wintour dropped out of school and instead pursued a life that revolved around the chic London life of the 1960s, frequenting the same London clubs of pop culture’s biggest celebrities and musicians like The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Before Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour started out in the fashion department of Harper’s & Queen in London. Over the years, she climbed the editorial ladder and bounced from magazine to magazine between New York and London. In 1976, she moved to New York and took over as fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. With a stop at Viva magazine after Harper’s Bazaar in between, Anna Wintour took a job with New York magazine in 1981. From the start, Wintour was driven and had her own sense of style and direction. In 1986, she returned to London as top editor of publisher Condé Nast’s British Vogue magazine.

It’s at British Vogue that Wintour’s cold demeanor earned her a few memorable nicknames: “Nuclear Wintour” and “Wintour of Our Discontent.” In 1987 she went onto another Condé Nast magazine, Home and Garden, where she abruptly changed the magazine’s title to HG.

Though subordinates grumbled about Wintour’s management style, Condé Nast’s top executives clearly supported her decisions; she earned a reported salary of more than $200,000 plus a $25,000 annual allowance for clothes and other perks.

In 1988 Anna Wintour left HG magazine and became editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine with one goal: reinstate Vogue magazine as the fashion authority. At the time of her arrival, Vogue magazine was losing ground to a three-year-old upstart, Elle magazine, which had already reached a paid circulation of 850,000. Vogue’s subscriber base meanwhile, was a motionless 1.2 million.

In her more than two decades at Vogue magazine, Wintour has more than accomplished her goal. She successfully restored Vogue’s supremacy and today the magazine enjoys the nickname of the “fashion bible.”

For all her critics, Anna Wintour has made many influential decisions that affect the magazine industry at large. She popularized putting celebrities instead of supermodels on magazine covers; she mixed low-end fashion pieces with expensive pieces in her photo shoots; she championed unknown fashion designers, making the careers of Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.

While Anna Wintour has garnered much attention for her distant demeanor and contributions to the fashion world, many are unaware of her commitment to philanthropy. Some of her generosity includes raising money for the Twin Towers fund after the September 11th terror attacks and with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, she helped create a new fund to encourage and support up-and-coming designers. Each year, she also organizes a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s costume department, which over the years has brought in some $50 million. This event attracts many celebrities and is covered relentlessly in fashion, society and celebrity magazines.

As for her personal life, she and husband David Shaffer divorced in 1999. The couple has two children together, Charles and Katherine. Currently, Anna Wintour maintains a relationship with investor Shelby Bryan.

Before They Were Brands – How Some Top Fashion Design Labels Got Their Start

They’re the must-have fashion design labels, the status brands that we just have to wear. But some labels and designers have become such a part of our fashion culture that it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always successful brands. At one point, the founders were fashion school students, stock boys or sales clerks. In fact, learning about how the designers got their start makes one admire them even more. Here, then, are some top fashion labels and the story of their humble beginnings.

Marc Jacobs. One of today’s top design celebrities, Marc Jacobs’ first job in fashion was as a stock boy at Charavari, an avant-garde clothing boutique in Manhattan. After graduating from high school, he went to fashion college, where he launched a line of hand-knit sweaters. His first job out of fashion school was at Perry Ellis, but he designed a grunge collection there that led to his dismissal. In 1986, with the help of financial backers, he designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label.

Kenneth Cole. Not many people realize that the full name of Kenneth Cole’s brand is “Kenneth Cole Productions.” Why is that? In 1982, the designer wanted to show his first line of shoes at Market Week at the New York Hilton, but couldn’t afford a hotel room or exhibit space. So instead, he parked a trailer two blocks from the hotel to sell his shoes. The only catch was that only production companies were granted permits to park trailers on the street. Not letting that stop him, he turned his shoe company into a film production company, shooting a documentary about his business and selling 40,000 pairs of shoes in the process.

Juicy Couture. The label that popularized the velour track suit was founded by fashion school grad Pamela Skaist-Levy and and Gela Nash-Taylor, wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor. Believe it or not, their first product was maternity pants. After changing the brand’s focus to active wear, the brand continued to struggle until they sent a free track suit to Madonna with “Madge” emblazoned on it. The superstar was photographed wearing it in public, and Juicy Couture was on the map.

Vera Wang. She may be known for her elegant wedding gowns and costumes for figure skaters like Michelle Kwan, but Vera Wang actually started out as a figure skater as well. She competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and was one of “Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd” that year. She failed to make the U.S. Olympic team and began a career in fashion journalism. She was a senior fashion editor for “Vogue” for 16 years, but left when she was turned down for the top job that Anna Wintour secured. She then became a design director at Ralph Lauren before striking out on her own.

Anna Sui. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Anna Sui loved fashion as a little girl, clipping out fashion magazine pages for her scrapbook. After attending fashion college, she worked for various junior sportswear companies by day, and designing her own clothing by night, eventually launching her own label out of her tiny New York apartment.

Ralph Lauren. Born Ralph Lifshitz, the designer’s first foray into fashion was selling neckties to his fellow classmates at his Talmudical academy. After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked for Brooks Brothers as a sales clerk. In 1967, he became an entrepreneur and opened a necktie store where he sold various labels, including his own, which he called “Polo.” He soon introduced men’s and women’s suits to his line, and eventually gained international recognition when he designed the clothes for the Robert Redford movie, “The Great Gatsby.”

These brands may have started out small, but they became fashion giants. And that’s inspiration indeed for anyone wanting to break into fashion design.

Be Bold, Bright and a Cut Above – Tips to Style Your Way Into Fashion News

Fashion. It’s a competitive game. And if the likes of Vogue’s Anna Wintour are anything to go by, it can be incredibly daunting for those just starting out and doing their own PR.

Yet, the glossy mags are ultimately where we want to be seen.

So how do you get fashion editors to take notice of your label if you’re not the owner of an established brand like Sass and Bide or Ksubi?

Editor of Australia’s Shop Till You Drop magazine, Justine Cullen says “do your research and think creatively”.

And if you’re pitching her a story…?

“Please make sure it’s not [a story] that ran in the magazine the month before, that you clearly haven’t read. Cringe. And target it. Sounds basic but I’m always deleting pitches sent for ‘your food and health pages’. Which we don’t have,” she says.

DIY PR guru, Amanda Fox of Dames and Divas says being eco-friendly, limited edition and one-of-a-kind, handcrafted from vintage silk kimonos helped her shoes stand out and get featured in the media.

“Their bright, bold colours definitely stand out which are reinforced with clean, clear, crisp professional product photography,” said Amanda.

Melbourne based, celebrity stylist Amber Renae agrees saying bold colours, heavy embellishments and a cut no-one has seen before gets a fashion editor’s attention. You also need to be persistent and proactively contact the media.

Producing key editorial pieces that might be a bit crazy to wear, specifically for PR purposes, in addition to your saleable line, also helps, she said.

And if you want to get your clothes to a celebrity – just contact their stylist “9 out of 10 times we’ll look at your look-book and product,” says Amber.

Here are PR Guru’s 10 tips on doing your own fashion PR:

1. Get your timing right – fashion titles work two to six months in advance, so make sure you’re pitching for the right season.

2. Read the magazines you want to get covered in, get to know their content and style and adapt your story pitch to suit them.

3. Look amazing; stand out. This is when attention to detail counts – make your media kit look as professional and beautiful as possible.

4. Tell the story behind your range/label and explain what makes it like no other, include a great press release in your media kit.

5. Check in with the media. Send in samples but don’t forget to follow up with a phone call and your story pitch. Only send releases to one member of staff at the same publication.

6. Gift your wares. Select a small number of celebrities that you think would be best suited to your product. Contact their publicists – look online or you can sometimes go through the publicity department of the media outlet or TV network they work for.

7. Invest in top quality, professional photography – the media may or may not use your images but it’s still important to have the best available photographs to ‘sell’ your product. Include 3 high quality low res JPG’s of your strongest products.

8. Don’t forget the details. Make sure your media kit contains all the retail and pricing information as well as your location, contact details and biography.

9. Love your product, wear it, promote it – take Allanah Hill as an example – she is always promoting her brand.

10. Get on the event scene and be seen. Never underestimate the power of meeting people at events. Plus use social media.