Front Row: Anna Wintour: What Lies Beneath the Chic Exterior of Vogue's Editor in Chief

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9780312323110: Front Row: Anna Wintour: What Lies Beneath the Chic Exterior of Vogue's Editor in Chief

She's ambitious, driven, insecure, needy, a perfectionist―and she's considered the most powerful force in the more than $100 billion fashion industry. She's Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, the world's fashion bible. With her signature Louise Brooks bob, trademark sunglasses, and glamorous furs, she's a sexy international diva, gossiped about the world over. As famed designed Oscar de la Renta declares, "She's a star."

How did Wintour, who quit school over the length of her hemline, and who had no real writing or communication skills, rise to the pinnacle of the fashion magazine world? Based on scores of interviews with present and former friends and colleagues, Front Row is the scrupulously researched, often shocking life story of this enigmatic icon―a candid portrait of a fashion-obsessed teenager in Swinging Sixties London who claws her way up the ivory tower in New York. It is also an intimate examination of Wintour's personal passions and needs, her loves lost and won, and her feuds and achievements. Anna Wintour's story is an inside look at one of the world's most influential women as well as the catty, competitive bitch-eat-bitch world of fashion. Meow!

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About the Author:

Jerry Oppenheimer has been writing definitive, bestselling biographies of American icons since the mideighties. His subjects have included Martha Stewart, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ethel Kennedy, Barbara Walters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Rock Hudson. He has worked in all facets of journalism, from national investigative reporting in Washington, D.C., to producing TV news and documentaries.

From The Washington Post:

The editor in chief of a pop-culture magazine where I used to work would sternly forbid the staff to use the word "icon," unless they were referring to ancient Russian religious art. And I applauded him! The English language is eroding fast, and we need to throw up all possible embankments.

Yet when one reads Jerry Oppenheimer's gleefully ballyhooed biography of another editor in chief -- or "editrix," a sexist term Anna Wintour helped inspire -- icon is exactly the word that comes to mind. Not in the sense of "legend" or "very big celebrity," as it is breathlessly applied to people like Madonna (though in the fashion industry at least, Wintour has certainly achieved such stature), but "icon" meaning image, portrait, cartoon. Many ex-friends, lovers and business associates sallied forth to speak about Wintour -- now 55, a woman in her prime like Miss Jean Brodie, presiding over the crème de la crème or rather the skim milk of skim milk of the Condé Nast finishing school. (Disclosure: I am a contributing editor at Allure, a Condé Nast publication.) But most of her current intimates refused to speak for the record, and in the absence of such testimony, the author often is forced to construct his aloof, elusive subject as a collection of visual symbols. Wintour is her miniskirt; her bobbed hair (it gets a five-page disquisition); her bloody-rare hamburger; her ubiquitous sunglasses -- which, we learn in one of the book's few sympathetic moments, are not a style affectation, but a cover up; the poor thing is apparently "blind as a bat." Could it be that Vogue's top vixen has some personality traits in common with another "icon" of this season, the half-deaf aviator-mogul Howard Hughes, immortalized in the Oscar-nominated movie "The Aviator"?

As in Hughes's case, it's hard to feel much sympathy for Wintour, who was born into privilege and has refused to relinquish it for a nanosecond. (When her East Village sublet was overrun by cockroaches in 1978, Oppenheimer reports, she fled in a taxi, never to return.) Her mother was a bespectacled Bostonian social worker who never got over the accidental death of her eldest son, and whose rural American relatives are treated like hired help by adult Anna (or so they complain); her father was the renowned London newspaper editor Charles "Chilly Charlie" Wintour, a bit of a Black Jack Bouvier type who later remarried one Audrey Slaughter. (One of the many pleasures of the Wintours' tale is how densely populated it is with outlandishly named, British bodice-ripper-sounding characters: Drusillas and Isabellas and Georginas. Nearly everybody is quoted in swooping italics, which enhances the effect.)

After his daughter scorned traditional schooling -- the mean teachers weren't thrilled about that penchant for miniskirts -- Daddy Wintour helped her get a couple of career breaks, beginning with a stint as a shopgirl at Biba, the boutique of London's swinging '60s. You might need to be a serious media or fashion wonk to appreciate Oppenheimer's meticulous tracing of the single-minded career arc that followed, the most titillating revelation of which might be that Wintour put in time at a now defunct sister magazine to Penthouse -- a fact she later deftly excised from her résumé. Amid the hirings and firings and photo shoots, we find a newsflash: The Vogue editor can be demanding in the workplace! To achieve her current perch, it appears, she harnessed "unvarnished ambition" -- still, incredibly, a slur when applied to women. The overall impression is almost as cartoonish as that sketched in The Devil Wears Prada, a roman à clef by Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger.

If only for its verisimilitude, Front Row is an infinitely more satisfying Wintour treatise than that limply plotted bestseller; if Weisberger's heroine had taken a week off to groove at a Bob Marley concert, no one would've believed it. But the text could have used a little judicious airbrushing. Oppenheimer is fond of slipping jarringly into hipster colloquialisms like "way cool" and "freaking" -- more suitable to a contributor to Vogue's extremely successful teen spinoff edition than to a veteran biographer. He fails to acknowledge that even if you hate what Vogue represents, in its current incarnation it's a very, very good magazine; delicious in its unapologetic elitism and strong if fantastical point of view, a pleasure to page through every month. And he attributes the phrase "give them what they never knew they needed" to Wintour's predecessor, Grace Mirabella, without crediting the inspiration of Mirabella's predecessor, the flamingly iconic Diana Vreeland.

Reviewed by Alexandra Jacobs
Copyright 2005, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved.

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Descripción Griffin Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Glamorous Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is the most powerful style-maker in the world. She influences designers, wholesalers, and retailers globally from Seventh Avenue to the elegant enclaves of L:Avenue Montaigne. And every month millions of Vogue readers turn the pages of the chic and trendy style wish book that she has controlled with an iron hand in a not always so velvet glove. Now in her mid fifties, as she nears her remarkable quarter century at the helm of Vogue , comes this revealing biography that will shock and surprise both Anna s fans and detractors alike. Based on scores of interviews, Front Row chronicles the insecure and creative climb of this powerhouse to the top of the bitchy, competitive fashion magazine world, exposing for the first time how she artfully crafted and reinvented herself along the way. Nº de ref. de la librería LIB9780312323110

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Descripción Griffin Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Glamorous Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is the most powerful style-maker in the world. She influences designers, wholesalers, and retailers globally from Seventh Avenue to the elegant enclaves of L:Avenue Montaigne. And every month millions of Vogue readers turn the pages of the chic and trendy style wish book that she has controlled with an iron hand in a not always so velvet glove. Now in her mid fifties, as she nears her remarkable quarter century at the helm of Vogue , comes this revealing biography that will shock and surprise both Anna s fans and detractors alike. Based on scores of interviews, Front Row chronicles the insecure and creative climb of this powerhouse to the top of the bitchy, competitive fashion magazine world, exposing for the first time how she artfully crafted and reinvented herself along the way. Nº de ref. de la librería LIB9780312323110

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Descripción Griffin Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New edition. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Glamorous Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is the most powerful style-maker in the world. She influences designers, wholesalers, and retailers globally from Seventh Avenue to the elegant enclaves of L:Avenue Montaigne. And every month millions of Vogue readers turn the pages of the chic and trendy style wish book that she has controlled with an iron hand in a not always so velvet glove. Now in her mid fifties, as she nears her remarkable quarter century at the helm of Vogue , comes this revealing biography that will shock and surprise both Anna s fans and detractors alike. Based on scores of interviews, Front Row chronicles the insecure and creative climb of this powerhouse to the top of the bitchy, competitive fashion magazine world, exposing for the first time how she artfully crafted and reinvented herself along the way. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9780312323110

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