• Cameron Chu

Anna Wintour: The Iconic Vogue Journalist Who Wore Prada

How she harnessed her passion for fashion and became a girl boss in journalism

By: Cameron Chu

Anna Wintour- you may know her as British-American woman journalist, the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, or the woman Meryl Streep played in the iconic film, "The Devil Wears Prada." Though it was never confirmed by the author of the book who Streep's character was based on, it's pretty clear that Wintour was the inspiration given the similarities. This is even more likely given the fact that the book's author, Lauren Weinberger, was the assistant to Anna Wintour while she worked at Vogue. Wintour was such a captivating and empowering character that many book reviewers and movie critics say the film would not have gained as much success as it did if the evil boss, Miranda, hadn't been inspired by Wintour.

So, what is so special about Anna Wintour? When I first heard about her it was because of my exposure to "The Devil Wears Prada" movie, but there is a reason why she possesses the fearless and powerful reputation she has now. Wintour used her passion for the fashion and beauty industry into becoming one of the most powerful people in the magazine world.

Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour
Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour

Passion for Fashion

Anna Wintour grew up in Hampstead, London. Her father was Charles Wintour, a London Evening Standard editor, which is probably where she got her passion for journalism. She fell in love with fashion when she was just a teenager. Wintour attended North London Collegiate School, where she learned how to write and got dress coded every day. She would obsess over new issues of Seventeen Magazine from her grandmother in the U.S. to keep up with her passion for fashion. She also worked at a boutique and enrolled in fashion school to learn more about fashion design. I can relate to Wintour the appreciation she has for fashion and journalism.

Career in Journalism

Growing up, she helped her dad by coming up with creative ideas to gain traction directed towards a younger demographic for his paper, which gained her exposure for her writing and landed her first job in journalism for Oz Magazine. This eventually led her where she thrives today in the world of fashion journalism.

While her first job in journalism was with Oz Magazine, she went on to working as an editorial assistant for Harper’s Bazaar, a popular women’s fashion magazine. In 1988 she accepted the editorship position of American Vogue. A turning point in her career was when she revived the Conde Nast publication, and in doing so, she became one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry. She also created her own iconic style, wearing a pageboy haircut and oversized black sunglasses combination that became a signature look for her. Her story taught me how she worked up her way to become a powerful woman in journalism figure and paved the way for other young journalist who want to work in fashion and media.

Girl Boss

I admire Wintour for how she made it her goal to inspire and encourage young career-driven independent women. She became fashion editor of New York Magazine because the creative ideas she brought in were raising buzz in the industry. She was also known for making unfavorable choices regarding staffing and how she ran the office after she became the boss, which many staff members did not respond happily to. This earned her the popular title of "Nuclear Wintour" at Vogue among her employees, but this didn’t impact her work ethic in the slightest. She eventually took over US Vogue completely in 1988 as her changes for the magazine worked.

Anna Wintour in signature hair bob style and black sunglasses.
Anna Wintour in signature hair bob style and black sunglasses.

Her story inspired me to believe that confidence is key. She may have an intimidating exterior, but that is how she has gotten to be where she is today as the editor-in-chief of US Vogue. Without those changes, she wouldn’t have encouraged many young, driven, and hopeful female writers, like me, to own who they are in the same way. Wintour has proven to be the ultimate girl boss; she’s decisive, career-driven and doesn’t let anyone change her way of thinking. Wintour created the trend of a hard boss in the fashion industry that I admire immensely. She was criticized and looked down on for her opinions like her pro-fur stance, yet she always stood strong in her decisions and who she was. No matter how controversial, she stood for what she believed in and wanted to do, and that is why she is so inspirational to me.

About the Author

Cameron Chu is a public relations professional in Dallas, Texas. Cameron studied journalism with a concentration in PR and a minor in Marketing at the University of North Texas. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in December 2022.