The Way I See It…Anna Wintour: Behind the Shades

Anna Wintour and Morley Safer at the Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 show at New York Fashion Week

Anna Wintour and Morley Safer at the Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 show at New York Fashion Week

By now we’ve all seen the 12 minute interview and extra footage of Anna Wintour: Behind the Shades on 6o Minutes. Now that the novelty and excitement surrounding the piece (and the glimpse into the mind of  THE Anna Wintour) has worn off I wanted to speak about how I felt about Morley Safer’s coverage and treatment of his subject matter.

I know that Safer is a veteran journalist (and I am a rookie) but his treatment of Ms. Wintour and the fashion industry itself left a nasty taste in my mouth. 

While I understand that there are those who view the fashion industry as nothing more then an industry rooted in the superficial there are also many people who see clothes and shoes and accessories as more than just something to throw on your back when you are cold or need protection from the sun.  I felt that he barely glanced over the surface of his subject matter and I don’t feel more enriched for having watched the piece.

Referring to the Vogue accessories closet as the “great horde”, to fashion shows as “part Rocky Horror show”, models “as angry as they seem emaciated wearing clothes fit for a cadaver” and Karl Lagerfeld as a man “who this season favours the Dracula look” are insulting and trivialize the fashion industry.

One of the first lessons that I learned in Journalism school is to always do everything in your power to present a balanced unbiased account of your subject matter and Morley Safer didn’t do that.  The piece was peppered with his bias and condescension and I felt that his treatment of the story was disrespectful to his subject matter and unprofessional.

While I do see Anna Wintour in a different light that is because who she really is (or who she would like us to think she is) shone through despite Safer’s many attempts at trying to fluster her and get her to tick.  The Anna that I saw was cool as a cucumber, well-spoken and unflappable.  She seemed like a “glamourous girlfriend” and a woman who is extremely passionate about fashion and driven as well.

I didn’t see the “Ice Queen”, “Darth Vader in a frock” or “peaches and cream mixed with arsenic”.  I saw a woman who intelligently keeps business and pleasure separated.

“Well, we’re here to work.  And there’s on duty time and off duty time and in the end we’re drawn together by our passion for the magazine and our respect and friendship for each other.  And if one comes across as being cold or brusque it’s simply because I’m striving for the best.”

I don’t see “Nuclear Wintour”.  I see a strong, focused women who will settle for nothing less then perfection and when I look at the fashion industry I see a mass of creative people striving towards beauty and self-expression.  But that’s just me.



About Septembre

Septembre Anderson is a passionate journalist, cultural critic and public intellectual. Her work has appeared in Flare, FASHION Magazine,, Complex Canada, Vice Canada and Huffington Post Canada.
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