Anna Wintour on Mourning Karl Lagerfeld, the 2020 Election and Fashion's #MeToo Reckoning
The Vogue editor-in-chief explained to Women in the World Summit founder Tina Brown that as of late, she's most inspired by New Zealand's prime minister.
Anna Wintour isn't sure what she's going to wear to this year's Met Gala, which is just a little more than three weeks away, but she is sure the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" theme is likely to confuse some attendees.
“I have options, but what I’m really hoping is that someone will arrive in hiking boots and a backpack," the Conde Nast artistic director and longtime Vogue editor-in-chief told the crowd at the 2019 Women in the World Summit on Friday.
According to Wintour, who was interviewed by the conference's founder Tina Brown, the theme is based on Susan Sontag's essay, Notes on Camp, and it "really examines the Camp aesthetic, starting with the court of Louis XIV moving through the Oscar Wilde period to the current influence of Camp on modern designers."
The gala will come just three months after the death of fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, something that Wintour has personally struggled with.
“There is no one, was no one, like Karl," Wintour said. "He was just a completely exceptional person. He was a linguist. He was a historian. He was a designer. He was a decorator. He was a philanthropist. He was a humanitarian. He was witty. He was wicked. He was the best kind of friend to have. He was incredibly generous and incredibly kind. He was this larger-than-life figure that I think we all need to inspire the world."
Another one of those figures for Wintour is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand who gained notoriety for her response to at least 50 people being killed in a mass shooting attack on two mosques in March. Wintour said she's been "impressed" and "inspired" by the politician.
"I think when we look at the terrifying issues that we have in this country, and obviously many other countries, on gun control, and how brilliantly and directly and emotionally she dealt with the tragedy in New Zealand, and how swiftly they moved to correct the situation, it’s astonishing to me that we cannot pass the simplest correction in this country," Wintour said. "I just think it’s appalling. Right now, if you’re going to ask me, I wish she’d come and run this country."
Wintour has been open about her politics in the past, and was one of Barack Obama's biggest donors during the 2012 presidential election.
As for the current race, she doesn't have a favorite candidate yet. But what she does want is for those running to stop being labeled.
"I’m looking forward to the post-label generation...when we don’t have to label our candidates because he’s the ‘gay mayor from South Bend’ or the ‘black female candidate from California.’ How about they’re just great candidates?” Wintour said.
She added that she's ready for the Dem candidate to be chosen already, because she's "convinced that Trump is already fueling his war chest."
"He’s, I’m sure, spending a lot of money on digital advertising and probably voter suppression and many other things," Wintour said. "So I think the sooner that we can find the right candidate — and to be honest, whoever is the candidate, I will support, because we have to win."
Throughout her conversation with Brown, Wintour was open about a number of other things; namely, the #MeToo movement that started in Hollywood and eventually inched its way toward the fashion industry.
"I think that we were as shocked and disturbed as so many industries were, and we moved very quickly to update our global code of conduct. We interviewed hundreds of people that go on shoots or are involved with the company in many different ways." Wintour explained. "We revised our guidelines; we made it very clear that any kind of disrespectful or upsetting behavior would in no way be tolerated. We put in place a hotline for anyone who wanted to call in things that were untoward, that were happening either in the office or on shoots."
She continued, "We made the very, very difficult decision to stop working with a number of photographers that were under investigation for sexual harassment. And these were photographers that were not only longtime collaborators — brilliant collaborators — and colleagues at Conde and throughout the world, and very important to the voice of many of our titles, but also personal friends. And that has been a very, very tough decision but absolutely no question that it was the right one to make."
After multiple women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, Wintour publicly expressed her support to Weinstein's now-estranged wife Georgina Chapman. Wintour even profiled her in Vogue, and penned an editor's letter about their friendship and how people shouldn't hold Chapman responsible for Weinstein's actions.
"I think we’ve seen many times over the years where maybe the wife is the last person to know what her partner might be up to," Wintour said Friday, maintaining her defense of Chapman. "And I think that Georgina behaved with discretion. I think [she] was, you know, emotionally, obviously, devastated but was very private, was very concerned rightfully about her children and I think it would’ve been exceptionally unfair to blame Georgina for her husband’s behavior."
Wintour discussed the difficult subject with ease, just as she did while reminiscing on her time spent hanging out with Princess Diana, being made a Dame Commander of the British Empire and when she and Queen Elizabeth discussed how long the both of them have been in their jobs.
But without a doubt the most shocking revelation Wintour made pertained to her infamous look: "I think it's a little bit boring and it's time to change. I’ve been thinking a lot about suits lately. Thank you to the Duchess of Sussex."
Wintour commended Meghan Markle's style, saying that she's "bringing modernity to the royal family in a way that's inspiring."
The interview with Brown was a part of the summit's last day, which also featured a surprise conversation with Hillary Clinton.