Anna Wintour is the British born editor-in-chief of American Vogue and arguably one of the most influential women in the world-wide fashion industry. She has held the position of Editor-in-Chief for nearly 25 years and there is one Director that has been with Anna since she started back in 1988: Grace Coddington.
The other night a good friend and I decided that we were in need of a movie night after tolerating one of those rare Southern California weekends where the haze never seemed to burn off. We wanted to be inspired and to watch something that spoke to us as young and modern women, so we popped in The September Issue. Based on the trailers and buzz from when it first aired a couple of years ago, we were expecting an insightful bio-pic on the life of Anna Wintour. What we found was a story of passion, tension and brilliance between two women: Anna and Grace.
Anna is infamous for her stoic presence and brilliant ability to lead a magazine through multiple generations while keeping it current and influential. One of the early scenes in the film depicts an annual meeting between the lead editors at Vogue and the top management, including the CEO, of Neiman Marcus. It is clear that Anna is more than a magazine editor. She influences a significant portion of the retail economy by driving trends, highlighting designers, and then telling major brands and department stores what will drive their bottom line this year. Will it be stripes? Will it be color blocking? Will it be Thakoon? She has the answers and the CEO of Neiman Marcus eagerly awaits her insight.
Another scene flashes to the media frenzy surrounding Thakoon's stint as a guest designer working for The Gap. His objective was to re-work the plain white shirt so that it maintains its simple elegance, but perhaps with a bit more interesting detail and design. At the launch party Anna whispers congratulatory remarks about his success and states that she has heard that all of the online supply sold out on the first day. The entire online supply for shirts by Thakoon sold by The Gap were SOLD OUT. That equals millions and millions of dollars of sales for a publicly traded company. Guess who placed Thakoon in that consulting role? Anna.
By now you are hopefully realizing the influence and power that this petite fashion icon has on not only the pages that are displayed in her magazine, but on the greater world economy. And while I found Anna delightfully brilliant in how she runs her business, I was most taken by the role of Grace Coddington. She is the Creative Director at Vogue and has an incredible ability to bring together the most stunning photographs. It was more than her glaring talent that stood out in the film; it was the fact that she was the only one who ever talked back to Anna. At one point she is conversing with a editor wallowing in defeat as he had just come out of a meeting with Anna in which all of his 'looks' were frowned upon, and she says to him: "You have to be strong, otherwise you could get blamed." Utter brilliance.
So often I take to heart the feedback and opinions of others on my work and then second guess my own abilities. My intentions are not to overlook or brush aside the constructive criticism that helps us learn and grow. More simply, Grace's quote made me realize that we have to be strong and stand up for what we believe in to be right. If we fade into the background or worse, we sulk, then if things do not go as planned we could find ourselves victim to the cause of such disaster.
It is a new week and a fresh start. I am looking forward to marching ahead with conviction and passion for what I know myself to be capable of and good at if I just put my mind to it. I encourage you to do the same and keep in mind: "You have to be strong, otherwise you could get blamed." After all, didn't Meryl Streep tip her glasses to Anne Hathaway at the end of 'The Devil Wears Prada' in recognition of the girl that stood up for what she believed to be true and right in her heart?