It’s not often we get an insight into the thoughts of Anna Wintour. Last night she gave a talk at the Oxford Union, roughly 600 members and guests queued in the freezing cold to get an inside look into the world of being a ‘Vogue’ Fashion Editor.
Talking freely, Anna came across as personable and humble as she spoke about coming from a family of academics, many having studied at Oxford or Cambridge, and the importance of education in shaping their future. Anna spoke about how she herself made the decision to leave school at the age of sixteen and go straight out to work. Knowing how to do everything is a must in the fashion world; she perfected her skills from writing to styling, editing, the whole package! In a world full of creatives it is important to be “self-sufficient” to be the master of all trades like a “one woman show”.
Anna stated, “England is still the best training grounds for the arts”. She spoke about being in the right places, learning from the best people and working with the most creative teams. She recognised the wealth of talent here in England, from the small teams working on print magazines (a woman after Old Tat’s own heart) often for their passion rather than a pay check. Anna acknowledged that it is important to take a quiet but steady route to the top. She advised, “seek to be relevant, agile and educated.”
Anna talked about her inspirations for supporting young fashion designers and how important this is alongside the work she does with various charities. “I’d like to see more woman designers,” she stated. Having heard from her colleagues that LFW had many fantastic female designers showcasing this year she appeared hopeful that there would be a shift in the industry and more female designers would be in the spotlight. Touching on style, taste and having conviction in your opinions, Anna noted that, “people always look for your point of view so it is important to trust and cultivate your taste” and believe in your own opinions.
The talk ended on a high and completely inspired me. Anna spoke about her family members that do so much; they write, run their own t-shirt company on ‘e-bay’, do charity work and fit so much into their life. Anna’s family influence became clear, “the more you do the more you can do” explaining that we should all find time to add something to our life, something deeply fulfilling that helps to grow you as a person. The talk opened up to questions and one in particular stuck in my mind. “What do you do or how do you take that time to sit, think and be creative?” Anna mentioned although she was not a great example of this that it is “important to ‘get outside yourself’ and to find the time to collect your thoughts, be that when traveling or in your own space.”
“When you live with intention you create the space to live in.” All of us in the creative world follow our dreams and our inspirations and this reminds me that we are all the keepers of our own destiny and we should seek to create those opportunities to do what we love. It’s those things that keep us going, keep us energised, keep us learning.
Words by Katherine McNeil
Photography by Rodger Askew oxfordphotographer.com