Anna Wintour is so renowned in the world of fashion—and, for that matter, in the world at large—that she scarcely needs an introduction. In the 21 years that she has been the editor in chief of American Vogue, Wintour has kept the magazine firmly at the forefront of fashion, matched numerous young designers with venerable brands in need of fresh expertise, and engineered and overseen the launches of Teen Vogue and Men's Vogue.
"Fashion reflects the times just as much as a headline in a newspaper does," she says. "If you look at the miniskirts of the sixties or the Chanel suits and jewelry of the eighties, you can see that. Vogue informs the reader about what's going on in the world, not only through fashion but also through politics, the arts, philanthropy, and sports. Fashion does not exist in a vacuum."
What advice do you have for a young person who is interested in fashion design?
Don't go too fast. Because of reality television and all these celebrities thinking they can be designers, everyone imagines that they can just become a designer, photographer, or model, but that's not the way things work. People have to go to school, learn their craft, and build a brand—that's the right, healthy way to do things.
If you're an overnight sensation, you can be yesterday's news in no time, whereas building something slowly and carefully that has value and quality, that's what's going to have legs. You'd be amazed at how many people come in here, and they make perfectly nice clothes, but they don't understand how to differentiate their brand from another, or they don't have a business plan, or they don't know where to produce things.
Don't run before you can crawl. It's a very hard business, full of many, many extremely creative, talented people who work hard and still fail. If you have the basic building blocks behind you, you're much more likely to do well.