“Seek to be relevant, to be agile and to be educated”
This was the advice Anna Wintour gave to students seeking success, in a speech made at The Northern Youth Fashion Show. The Editor of American Vogue and one of Forbes’s ‘most powerful women in the world’ emphasised the importance of being self-sufficient, in a world where people expect you to be your ‘own actor, director, producer, photographer, editor, gaffer’. Her manner, direct, composed and at times comically blunt- in reply to the question ‘what is the best way to cultivate your own style?’ she sarcastically remarked ‘look in the mirror’ – was completely compelling. It is clear to see why she is where she is.
With an audience made up of mostly students, her speech focused on how young people can make it, ‘now that the world is moving so fast’ and now that technology has such a huge role to play in our lives. She made the prospect of entering the world of business exciting and spoke about how we can use our youthfulness to get ahead; as people in positions of authority ‘want to reach [our] generation, want to see the world as [we] see it.’
The speech focused on succeeding generally – whatever the industry, but she also drew attention to the kind of skills and outlook necessary if you’re wanting to enter the worlds of fashion and media. For Anna, success in these uber competitive industries, comes from ‘knowing how to do a little bit of everything…it makes you better at what you’re doing, rather than just being good at one thing’. Also, having a point of view is paramount; ‘one of the things I always look for, whether it’s in a collection, in a piece of writing, a photograph or a job candidate, is a point of view.’ This is music to our ears – as fashion writers we try to present our own view on important issues occupying the fashion industry, whether controversial or not. It’s also something to remember if you’re ever lucky enough to get an interview at Vogue.
Anna believes that England is the best training ground for journalism and the arts as ‘the smaller scale and the sense of freedom that allows are unparalleled’ and I couldn’t agree more as the Gryphon’s ‘smaller scale’ enables us students to experiment and develop our writing. It’s about gaining experience, and that’s something which Anna advised us ‘not to discount’; working and learning from the best gives you ‘the freedom to try various things, to make mistakes, and perhaps to pivot.’ What Anna suggests, in various ways, is to keep your options open, whether you want to work in fashion or not; gain experience, try new things and don’t be afraid to use your voice.
Prior to her appearance, my opinion of Anna Wintour came from watching The Devil Wears Prada and paparazzi shots of her huge shades and pursed lips. However, she is altogether different to the ice queen persona presented to us by the media. As I somehow happened to be stood beside her car as she was whisked into the venue in York, I notice her stop and take a selfie with a bystander, as she smiled and waved at the rest of us.
She gave great advice, it was clear that she thought carefully about what she had to say, yes she had an edge but she also laughed along with the audience. And most importantly, what she said has stuck with me… as I’m writing this article I keep thinking, would Anna see my point of view?
Images: York Mix, thenorthernecho