When I was a young teenager, I wasn’t just reading Teen Vogue and asking the editors questions over Twitter — I was also plotting the day I would eventually snatch Anna Wintour’s job right from under those bulky Chanel sunglasses.
And like every pretentious, wide-eyed 14-year-old at the time watching “The Devil Wears Prada” on repeat, scavenging YouTube for videos of The Academy Awards’ best and worst dressed and memorizing designer brands like English class vocabulary words, I wanted to burst onto the scene of this too haute to handle, sartorial world with my ducks in a row.
But as my Teen Vogue copies from the early 2010s were tearfully recycled and replaced with a Vogue subscription that the previous tenant of my building just never bothered to cancel, priorities simply changed for my 20-something collegiate self. And like the probably 99.3% of people who have also imagined stepping into Wintour’s designer heels, I realized that, in the end, I might not be cut out to be the editor in chief of the world’s most well-revered fashion and culture magazine.
As school progressed, I really hadn’t even given working in the fashion industry a second glance. Being a college student essentially means giving up the free time you spent perusing impractical interests as a teenager and instead filling it with feasible internships, networking, studying and anything else that could eventually land you an attainable job.
Like much of the world right now, however, I have quite a bit of unexpected free time. And if there was any correct way for me to fantasize about working in the fashion and arts industry from the comforts of my self-isolating bedroom this past month, it was watching Wintour’s online MasterClass.
All thanks to the 10 friends who split the yearly MasterClass subscription price with me, of course. Cheers to operating on a student budget.
In Wintour’s prerecorded online class, she touches on everything from responding to criticism to planning the annual Met Gala. Just looking at her, with her sharp cut bob and perfectly tailored sleeves, Wintour appears undeniably important. When I then look at myself, sitting on the couch in H&M leggings and an oversized T-shirt from sixth grade that hasn’t seen the outside world in nearly a decade, I see that it’s easy to feel distant from the glamorous atmosphere of fashion when it isn’t so directly in view.
Watching Wintour’s journey from young London fashion novice to worldwide couture household name is intimidating, to say the least. What did she do to get there — and what am I not doing to still be here?
Like one of Wintour’s counterparts said in the first part of the series, Wintour is a power. I can sit in front of my laptop and take in all of her advice — keep learning, meet new people, listen to opposing ideas, don’t micromanage, plan your days — and still wonder how someone of my subdued California presence could make it in the world of someone so high-speed New York chic.
It goes without saying that having your idols, your inspirations, your people to look up to in any particular field can help ease some of the disorientation of figuring things out. Even Wintour looked to the elegant, talented Grace Coddington before millions of people around the globe began looking toward Wintour herself.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find those striking, down-to-business female role models because, well, sometimes women in leadership positions are few and far between.
Now, don’t get me wrong — Anna Wintour is not perfect.
In fact, she’s quite far from it. The criticism she’s received from past employees are nothing short of valid — she is believed to have inspired the very devil of “The Devil Wears Prada,” after all. Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue magazine, has always been conceptually alluring to me, but if I was ever her intern or assistant, I’m sure I would be screaming the opposite.
At the beginning of her MasterClass, Wintour tells listeners that if there’s anything they should take away from her class, it’s to “own your decisions” and be unapologetically yourself. And if there’s anything I took away from Wintour’s teachings, it’s that there is a way to do that without repeating the mistakes of your predecessors. But, it never hurts to write down a few of their tips (as long as the advice doesn’t sound so inherently Miranda Priestly).
So no, I still don’t think sitting at the executive desk of Vogue magazine will ever be in my future. But if it is, I’ll send Wintour my best.
“Cutting Room Floor” columns are one-off, arts-oriented pieces written by Daily Cal staff members.