Today should be a national holiday in the fashion world; 65 years ago, one of the most influential people in the industry was born. We’re talking, of course, about Anna Wintour, the queen bee, the most loved and feared woman in fashion. But in spite of her rumored icy reputation, Anna’s managed to build the industry up in ways no one before her, and possibly few after her, will. So, to show her some love on her birthday, here are 10 things you might not have known about the most important woman in fashion.
1. She sat for hours in the back row of her first fashion show
Anna’s a FROW regular at all the important shows, but back when she was just a lowly junior assistant, she was relegated to the back row. Unlike today, shows back then took a really long time to finish. A conversation between Anna and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore in Maureen Callahan’s Champagne Supernova reveals what the editor remembers about her first runway experience. “The shows would take two hours just for the girls to go backward and forward and they looked so haughty,” she said. At least she wasn’t in standing!
2. She’s afraid of spiders
3. She’s really into Bob Marley
Jerry Oppenheimer’s 2005 book, Front Row: Anna Wintour: What Lies Beneath the Chic Exterior of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, recounts a time in the mid 70s when Wintour was totally obsessed with Bob Marley. She got a backstage pass to see him perform with The Wailers and, according to a source close to Wintour, it was like “Anna met God.” She apparently went backstage every night to their Manhattan performances that week. She’d even had a few nights out with Bob and his crew, although she says she never hooked up with the reggae legend.
4. She’s got a clothing allowance worth more than most people’s salary
An infographic by T magazine reveals that Wintour’s clothing allowance for her duties as Vogue‘s head honcho is rumored to be $200,000. Hey, when you’re the queen of fashion, you’ve got to be outfitted accordingly.
5. She had her own apartment at 15
When Anna moved to a chichi neighborhood – and a bigger house – around the age of 15, she made the servant’s quarters her own personal apartment. According to Oppenheimer, the setup kept her quite separate from the rest of her family living in the house.
6. She convinced Bernard Arnault to hire John Galliano
LVMH boss Bernard Arnault said that he consulted Wintour as he was considering applicants for the creative director job at Christian Dior. Were it not for Wintour’s insisting, Galliano might never have been hired at the French fashion house. “When I hired John, I discussed at length with her obviously at the time it was a risk, because he was not as well-known as he is today,” Arnault told 60 Minutes. “But I was comforted by Anna about what he could do and finally I took the risk.”
7. In spite of her cold reputation, she’s actually pretty giving
Wintour’s known as being something of an ice queen, but her daughter, Bee Shaffer, told Teen Vogue that her mother’s got a softer side. “I know that she is the most generous person you will ever meet. It’s crazy. She puts everyone before herself always.”
8. She dropped out of high school over her skirt hem
Oppenheimer’s book says that Wintour loathed her school uniform, a pleated brown skirt that came below the knee. She would always hike it up to be much shorter, to the dismay of the staff at the North London Collegiate School. In 1966, the school’s new headmistress caught Wintour rocking a short hemline and then tore the hems of her skirt to punish Wintour. Anna quit school soon after that.
9. She hates berets
Anna’s homely school uniform seems to have haunted her for a long time. According to Oppenheimer’s bio, the editrix was required to wear a brown version of the topper with her uniform, which she hated so much that when she was at Vogue, she still considered that hat terribly unfashionable, calling it the “awful brown beret.”
10. She doesn’t drink
With all the projects she juggles, including presiding over the artistic direction of all of Conde Nast, Anna Wintour can’t be slowed down by booze. As she told The Scene, she’s not a drinker.