Anna Wintour: A life in pictures

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Stylist Team
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Anna Wintour celebrates her 62nd birthday this week (3 November 2011), and so we've dug through the archives to compile a photo retrospective of the fashion industry heavyweight's life and career. Whether it's as the imperious editor of American Vogue or tireless AIDS campaigner who has raised over $20 million, Wintour is a huge force in popular culture today.

Click an image below to launch Anna Wintour's life in pictures.

Words by Dipal Acharya

  • Anna Wintour, 1964

    Anna Wintour was born on 3 November 1949, the daughter of Charles Wintour, editor of London's Evening Standard newspaper, and Eleanor Baker. Anna was one of four siblings and grew up in London. She attended North London Collegiate School, whose other celebrity alumni include actresses Rachel Weisz and Anna Popplewell.

  • Anna Wintour, 1970

    Showing an eager interest in fashion from a young age – it is rumoured that she cut her trademark bob at the age of fourteen – Wintour worked as a part-time shop girl at BIBA, the cult 60s label. In what was to be her first foray into fashion journalism, she was appointed editorial assistant of Harper’s Bazaar UK in 1970.

  • Anna Wintour, 1972

    During her time at Harper's, Wintour scouted the freshest modelling talent and organised shoots with iconic photographers, including Helmut Newton.

  • Anna Wintour, 1976

    The appointment lasted six years before Wintour crossed the Atlantic to join Harper's Bazaar's New York counterpart as a junior fashion editor in 1976.

  • Anna Wintour, 1977

    The position was not permanent, however, as Wintour was sacked after nine months for her avant-garde shoots. On the event, Wintour commented: "I worked for American Harper's Bazaar... they fired me. I recommend that you all get fired. It's a great learning experience."

  • Anna Wintour, 1982

    In 1981, after a brief break from work and stints at smaller magazines, Wintour was appointed Fashion Editor for New York Magazine. It was in this capacity that Wintour’s fashion eye garnered critical praise. Pictured is an example of her work from the April 1982 issue.

  • Anna Wintour, 1988

    Wintour officially joined the Condé Nast family in 1983 as Creative Director at British Vogue, and five years later was announced as editor-in-chief at American Vogue. To date, she has remained in the position for 23 years.

  • Anna Wintour, 1989

    As an ailing magazine in the late 1980s, Wintour turned around American Vogue’s prospects with her greater emphasis on celebrity cover girls and mixing up high-street and haute couture fashion.

  • Anna Wintour, 1990

    As part of a huge push to raise awareness of AIDS in the 1990s, Wintour developed a charity program with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), eventually raising over $17 million. Here she is pictured at one of her charity benefits with magazine editor Carolyn Roehm and Donna Karen.

  • Anna Wintour, 1990s

    During her tenancy as editor of Vogue, Wintour also gave birth to her two children, Charles and Katherine (known as Bee), whilst married to child psychiatrist David Shaffer, whom she had married in 1984. The marriage lasted fifteen years and the couple divorced in 1999 amid rumours that Wintour was having an affair with investor Shelby Bryan.

  • Anna Wintour, 1995

    In 1995, Anna Wintour presided over her first Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The annual fundraising event has become one of the most glamorous in the fashion calendar and has raised over $40 million to date.

  • Anna Wintour, 1996

    In the 1990s Wintour came under the scrutiny of animal rights activists for personally and professionally promoting fur. She defended the multi-million dollar industry in an interview, saying, “Fur is still a part of fashion, so Vogue will continue to report on it.”

  • Anna Wintour, 1996

    Her controversial opinions and professional conduct did not stop Wintour rubbing shoulders with the cream of society, including Princess Diana, Ralph Lauren and Gianni Versace. Here she is pictured during one of Diana's royal visits to Washington.

  • Anna Wintour, 1997

    Now a dominant voice in the fashion industry, Wintour began a champion young, new and exciting design talent. She brokered deals that made Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and John Galliano household names. Here she is pictured en-route to a Marc Jacobs solo show in 1997.

  • Anna Wintour, 1998

    During her career, Wintour has managed to secure some of the most high-profile celebrities for her covers, including Hilary Clinton, Gwenyth Paltrow, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

  • Anna Wintour, 2001

    Wintour expanded her Vogue empire in 2001, by adding Teen Vogue to the title's roster. This was soon followed by the launch of men’s Vogue in 2005. She remains Editorial Director for both titles.

  • Anna Wintour, 2003

    In 2003, Wintour was immortalised in fiction in Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, which would go on to be made into a successful film.. The roman a clef is based around ruthless editor Miranda Priestley (played by Meryl Streep), a character drawn from Weisberger’s own experience’s as Wintour’s assistant.

  • Anna Wintour, 2003

    That same year, in association with the CFDA, Wintour set up the Vogue Fashion Fund. The initiative provided financial and business support to young designers. Notable past recipients include Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang.

  • Anna Wintour, 2007

    French Vogue paid homage to Anna Wintour in July 2007, with a fashion story shot by Mario Testino. Using an Anna ‘look-a-like’, the shoot recreated Wintour’s front row poses and iconic style.

  • Anna Wintour, 2008

    American Vogue was thrown into controversy in 2008 over it’s April cover that purportedly recreated a racist King-Kong poster from the early 20th century. Wintour rema.ined tight-lipped throughout the storm.

  • Anna Wintour, 2009

    In 2009, Wintour featured extensively in R.J Cutler’s film The September Issue. The documentary went behind scenes at American Vogue for a fly-on-the-wll look at the compilation of its annual bumper fashion issue.

  • Anna Wintour, 2009

    At the heart of the documentary was the depiction of Wintour’s dynamic relationship with creative director Grace Coddington. The pair both started at American Vogue on the same day and have worked together for twenty years

  • Anna Wintour, 2009

    In the same year, Wintour spearheaded the Vogues Fashion's Night Out initiative, in a move to soothe the effects of the recession on retailers. The after-hours shopping event, which has taken place every year since, happens in seventeen countries worldwide. Wintour is pictured at the FNO in New York with Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Anna Wintour, 2011

    During Paris Fashion Week September 2011, Wintour courted controversy once again with her refusal to comment on Kanye West’s debut fashion collection. Despite the hip-hop mogul having consulted Wintour in the past over his fashion line, Wintour simply told journalists to “ask someone else” following the show.

  • Anna Wintour, 2011

    Wintour was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of decoration, in 2011. Other recipients of the honour include Edith Wharton, Steven Spielberg and Karl Lagerfeld.