Anna Wintour on Vogue at 125 and defining print in the digital age

Anna WIntour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue and Artistic director of Conde’ Nast, speaks to the Oxford Union,Oxford,UK

It’s the end of the summer and most employees at Condé Nast are either on vacation or leisurely working through the remaining days leading up to Labor Day weekend. The same is true at Vogue, which sits on the 25th floor of One World Trade Center in New York — but there’s a different sort of energy, a quiet, yet hurried one. The sound of hangers skimming the metal poles of clothing racks intermingles with chatter from editors, who are finishing up end-of-the-year projects while their boss, Anna Wintour, is on holiday, enjoying the last relaxing days before the rush begins for New York Fashion Week and then London, Milan and Paris.

Their work will close out an important year for Vogue, which is feting its 125th anniversary with a host of collaborations, a new conference and editorial projects that nod to the magazine’s past and current mission. The anniversary also comes at a challenging time for print media and fashion magazines in particular, which are still honing their digital voices while working to develop new revenue-generating brand extensions in the face of waning print advertising.

For Vogue, which many view as the crown jewel of Condé Nast, the occasion has provided a moment of reflection on what the publication means today and whether it still holds the same gravitas as it did decades earlier.

Nobody is better able to answer that question than Wintour, who’s been the magazine’s editor in chief since 1988 and, for the last four years, also artistic director of Condé Nast, a company where she built her reputation as one of the most cunning, influential and intimidating editors in fashion — and became a pop-culture figure around the world in the process.

But the landscape has changed since Wintour began her Condé career at Vogue 34 years ago.

Speaking broadly, she thoughtfully addressed the dominant force that is sapping power away from magazines — even hers — explaining that technology has given a platform to everyone, creating the effect of “information overload.”

“I think we’re living, in terms of media, in a very democratic age, but I think that we still look at everything through the lens of Vogue and through our own point of view,” she said, of her title’s mission today. “In the fact that Vogue is someone that can help guide enormous audiences through this fascinating world, I would like to think we are as influential and actually are now reaching so many more people than we ever dreamt of back in the Fifties or the Sixties.”

When asked if she feels as influential as ever, Wintour, whose power-playing persona is the red meat of every Hollywood characterization of a bitchy fashion person (exhibit A: “The Devil Wears Prada”), paused. “Personally?,” she said sheepishly. “That is something I never think about.”

Read more at WWD.