She is usually seen hiding behind her bob (Rush called her helmethead), but recently American Vogue editor Anna Wintour braved the world to record a campaign video for Barack Hussein Obama. I love this parody (found on Powerline):
The 2006 release of the semi-fictional Devil Wears Prada must had been devastating to Anna, her being the Devil in the film title and all. In 2009, the most powerful woman in fashion appeared in The September Issue, a documentary about her magazine. Presumably she expected something different, but this second movie only solidified her reputation for nastiness. I read a discussion of the film in National Review a few years ago. Cheapskate me doesn’t have the subscription to National Review Online, so I don’t have a link, and I don’t remember who penned the piece (probably Ross Douthat). The NRO argument was that at this point in her career, Wintour is most concerned about her legacy, and is insecure about her field of work. While the movie makes her seem as if she concedes that fashion is the domain of airheads, National Review rightly argued that the editor of America Vogue should be proud of her role as a curator of fashion arts.
I can’t help suspecting that the celebrated trendsetter belatedly jumped into the Obama bandwagon because she feels the need to redeem herself in the eyes of the chattering class and she wants to show some sort of substance. To be sure, Vogue publishes features on issues of the day and highlights women in politics. But Wintour’s record on political women can generously be called dicey, and in any event, men might buy Playboy for the articles, but that’s not why women buy Vogue. Perhaps Wintour decided to go all in on liberal politics because she doesn’t want to be remembered by the two films. It’s too bad because the woman I saw in The September Issue was a tough boss with a good eye who pushes her subordinates to perfection.
American politics are a deeply moral enterprise. When she said in her Obama campaign commercial that she has her reasons to support the President, we assume that her arguments are wrapped in morality. Her profession, however, is amoral, it’s about whether or not the light hit the model’s face in exactly the right way and other related issues. When judge on this level, Wintour is doing a superb job. But in making her support for Barack Obama so high profile, she traded the realm of aesthetics for that of morality.
Wintour became the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue in 1988, when supermodels ruled the catwalk. They were gorgeous and skinny, but had some sort of curve on their improbably thin and long bones. Cindy Crawford recalls that back in her days models wore the US size 6; they are now zero or 2. Very few women can have the kind of bodies and the faces that grace the covers of fashion magazines because these covers represented an unattainable ideal. I know that, and I’m not raving mad because I don’t look like Cindy Crawford. This is not to suggest that there were no anorexic models in the 80s, but the causes of anorexia nervosa are complicated, and the 80s supermodels were valid as a female ideal. There were no mistaking them for underdeveloped girls, and no doubt that they turned heads.
Shortly after Wintour assumed the Vogue leadership, the fashion industry elevated a mousy junkie Kate Moss to the status of a fashion icon. Heroin chic became all the rage, and Moss’s reputation for hard partying solidified her hold on the industry. Moss did at least six US Vogue covers — far less than the UK and France editions, but still a formidable number. Last year, Anna Wintour dedicated the cover of her September issue to the wedding of Kate Moss. Makes me wonder how much space she will devote to her divorce.
Like anorexia, drug use in the fashion industry is nothing new. In 1987 Leonard Cohen wrote:
I don’t like your fashion business mister
And I don’t like these drugs that keep you thin
I don’t like what happened to my sister
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
What was so sad about the 90s look is the affirmation of it.
We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
Better than nothing, I suppose, but Wintour didn’t promise to reject ads with underage models and her muse Moss with her ingenue features and flat body spent decades perfecting the juvenile delinquent look. Quite a few girls who work the catwalk today look like they might be in their mid-teens even if they are 25 — and that’s sick. Anfter Kate Moss any talk of “a healthy body image” seems insincere. Also, where does Michelle Obama stand on underage models, anorexia and drug addiction, and why does she associate with the likes of Wintour?
We, the aging first world consumers, complain that much of what the fashion industry produces is waif couture. But watch fashion consultants try to dress up a middle age matron that we are ostensibly required to take seriously:
In the 90s, Bill Clinton was pandering to statist moralist when he scolded the fashion industry for pimping heroin chic. Today, Barack Obama is siding with statist degenerates like Wintour (well, she must be a statist to sign on to his big government project). It’s a shame that the sitting US President is relying on the good graces of the woman who’s been so evil to her own sex, and it’s a shame that the feminists don’t seem to mind. On the other hand, what Wintour does with her magazine should not concern any President, so Clinton was also out of line.
We can blame fashion industry insiders all we want for the degenerate images they produce, but at the end it is we, the consumers, who keep feeding the beast. We are the ones who made Wintour’s September 2008 issue a huge success, so we really have no one to blame.