She’s fashion’s most famous editor with 25 years at style bible Vogue under her belt so it’s hardly surprising that Anna Wintour OBE will receive the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2014 British Fashion Awards.
The iconic editor-in-chief of American Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast will be honoured during the ceremony at the London Coliseum, on December 1, for her tremendous contribution to the fashion industry.
So who is the woman behind the black sunglasses, pageboy bob and frosty demeanour? A stellar businesswoman, that’s who.
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Anna, now 65, is the daughter of Charles Wintour, the famed then-editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper nicknamed ‘Chilly Charlie’, and philanthropist Elinor Wintour.
Clearly keen for independence, Anna dropped out of her pretentious finishing school and moved to London where her career began at Harpers & Queen magazine in London in 1970.
In 1983 she joined Condé Nast as creative director of American Vogue and in 1986 returned to England to become editor in chief of British Vogue. In July 1988 she rejoined American Vogue in her current position. In March 2013, Ms. Wintour was named the artistic director of Condé Nast.
Speaking about her hopes for the glossy fashion bible she’s made her own, Anna told the Telegraph at the time: ‘I want Vogue to be pacy, sharp, and sexy, I’m not interested in the super-rich or infinitely leisured.
‘I want our readers to be energetic, executive women, with money of their own and a wide range of interests.
‘There is a new kind of woman out there. She’s interested in business and money. She doesn’t have time to shop anymore. She wants to know what and why and where and how.’
She did just that. Garnering enough financial backing to revitalise the magazine (which was losing out in the figures to Elle), she restored it to glory. She spearheaded using celebrities on her covers and mixing up designer and high street fashion.
The September 2004 edition, under her editorship, had 832 pages, which is the most ever for a monthly magazine.
She is also responsible for founding the careers of esteemed designers such as Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.
She is also hugely charitable and uses her name for the good. She has been actively involved in fundraising, particularly for AIDS research and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 1990, she played a strategic role in developing the fashion industry’s AIDS charity, the CFDA/Vogue initiative through which she helped raise over $20m (£12.6m).
From 1995 to the present, Ms. Wintour has co-chaired sixteen fund-raising galas which together have raised nearly $130m (£82m) for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
In 2003, Ms. Wintour directed the establishment of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, an unprecedented initiative and award designed to aid emerging American fashion designers struggling to build successful businesses in the wake of 9/11.
In September 2009, in response to the devastating consequences of the economic downturn, she developed Fashion’s Night Out, a global initiative designed to promote the retail industry, restore consumer confidence and celebrate fashion.
In 2014, she spearheaded the fashion industry’s involvement in Born Free Africa, an organisation aiming to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by the end of 2015, using funds from a dedicated clothing line comprised of pieces by world-renowned fashion designers who are also mothers. She has since involved Victoria Beckham in the charity.
Wintour, who is famously good pals with Roger Federer and starts each day with a game of tennis, has also thrown herself into politics.
In February 2012, she co-hosted a fundraising event for President Barack Obama with actress Scarlett Johansson.
As for her personal life, she divorced David Shaffer, with whom she has two children with, and now resides in New York with long-time boyfriend, investor Shelby Bryan.
WHAT THE FASHION WORLD HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ANNA WINTOUR
The fashion world have come together to hail her success after the news was announced. Here’s what they have to say…
Christopher Bailey MBE, Burberry Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘Anna gives an extraordinary amount of her time nurturing and supporting creative talent around the world whether they are emerging or established names, part of fashion, literature, theatre, film, politics, sport or philanthropy.
‘Her contribution to all of our global industries is a testament to both her passion, and her innate generosity. On a personal level it has also been a tremendous honour to have had her support, guidance and friendship throughout the many years that I have known her and I’m delighted that we are celebrating her at the British Fashion Awards in London.’
Christopher Kane: ‘Anna Wintour is awe-inspiring; her dedication and passion to the fashion industry, her work ethic, and her unwavering support of young talent are truly unique. I owe so much to Anna for believing in me since the very beginning; without her loyal support and friendship over the past 10 years I would not be where I am today.’
Sarah Burton OBE, Creative Director of Alexander McQueen: ‘Anna has such an influential hand in fashion, she cares about, and pioneers creativity. Her love and contribution to British fashion is truly outstanding and I am ever grateful for all the support she has given me.’
Natalie Massenet MBE, Chairman of the British Fashion Council: ‘Anna Wintour has helped, nurtured and advised the careers of some of the world’s most brilliant and creative designers. There isn’t a person working in fashion who has not been inspired and influenced by Anna’s leadership.
‘This is why we are honouring Anna at this year’s British Fashion Awards. An editor, business woman, philanthropist, mother, friend and icon; this award recognises and celebrates her extraordinary contribution to the global fashion industry and to popular culture.
‘Anna is the creative industry ambassador and a great friend to the British fashion industry, which has benefited from her incredible support in driving the profile of our talent on a global platform as well as from her very personal care and attention.
‘As one of Britain’s most successful exports, it is fitting to celebrate Anna Wintour’s lifetime of achievement in London.’