What Does Anna Wintour Know?
A vibe shift is coming. Just look at the latest issue of Vogue.
We all have a hill that we’ll gladly die on. My roommate routinely goes on tirades about how no movie should run longer than 90 minutes (sorry, Scorcese). A lot of people on the internet are currently committed to the "hill" (read: conspiracy theory) that Kylie Jenner and Timothee Chalamet are a PR stunt engineered by Kris.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it over and over for the rest of my life: mine is that the Kim and Kanye Vogue cover of September 2014 caused a major vibe shift.
This, to me, is the first cultural domino to fall and we’re still living in its aftermath. It’s the hill I hope they bury me on. So let me explain.
Traditionally, the September issue of Vogue is a huge deal. It’s an extra thick, extra coveted issue because it’s usually the highest circulation month and advertisers literally fight — and bribe — for their spots. So do models, celebrities, and brands. Therefore, the unveiling of the September cover is always earth-shattering. In 2014, Vogue took a giant gamble: plastering Kim and Kanye on the cover to celebrate their wedding.
These days, a Kim K cover would be a no-brainer — she was just GQ’s Man of the Year, for instance, and posed on the cover with a bag of Cheetos — and a Kanye cover would be unfathomable — he’s in Wyoming somewhere, canceled. But in 2014, Kanye was a certified rap royalty and Kim Kardashian was only known for her reality show and penchant for bandage dresses.
Almost a decade ago now (do you feel old yet?), the cultural landscape was completely different. Rap music, for example, had been popular for years but was only just moving from a fringe genre to a celebrated part of the mainstream. So, although Kanye was a household name, he was a surprising choice for the cover. His foray into fashion, Yeezy, was still getting its sea legs and not yet the giant it would become. And as for Kim? She was pretty much a joke.
But this Vogue cover changed it all. People were outraged— saying Vogue had lost the plot and that it was going downhill — but Anna Wintour stuck to her guns. She took a risk, made a bet that KimYe would be fashion’s next hottest couple, and, against all odds, she was right.
After that cover, fashion changed. So did culture itself. Slowly but surely, we entered the streetwear and hypebeast epoch. Ruled by sneakers and sweatsuits, this era embraced a hip-hop-inspired take on fashion that contrasted with late-2000s business-casual attire and the millennial hipster chic of the early 2010s. Supreme was the hottest brand on the market. Sweatpants were acceptable club attire. And, meanwhile, KimYe was proving Anna Wintour right one Yeezy ensemble at a time.
Anna’s gamble also foreshadowed how enmeshed fashion and celebrity culture would become. These days, front rows of fashion shows are packed with actors, singers, and internet personalities instead of editors and industry vets. Budding industry darlings partner with brands like Loewe, Schiaparelli, and Jacquemus and make names for themselves as “fashion girls”. Even Kylie Jenner just launched a fashion line — perhaps she'll grace the cover of Vogue next.
But now, Anna has taken yet another risk.
Just days ago, out of nowhere, Vogue Magazine posted a very surprising pair on social media: Amazon billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos and his latest wife Lauren Sanchez.
The write-up was even weirder. From comparing Bezos to Iron Man (he wishes) to revealing that Lauren once outbid Kim Kardashian on a dress for $200,000… this Vogue spread felt like a paid advertisement for Jeff Bezos’s mid-life crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when hot girls have post-divorce revenge eras — like Em Rata or even Jeremy Allen White — but Jeff Bezos? We can not give him the validation.
And I’m not alone in thinking this. Vogue readers were fuming. Just check the comment section or the TikTok video essays. In the court of public opinion, billionaire Bezos is not winning. Some readers asked how much Bezos was shelling out for this profile, while others pointed out that Mackenzie Scott, his ex-wife who has committed to donating her fortune, would have been a better feature.
But I can’t help but wonder: what does Anna Wintour know? Could another vibe shift be imminent? Now that we’re used to seeing celebrities leverage fashion in service of their fashion brand, will we be seeing tech moguls and billionaires do the same? Next thing you know, Elon Musk will be the face of Balenciaga and all the tech kingpins will stop trying to go to space and instead try to score invites to the Met Gala and Vogue World.
If that’s where all this is headed, it’s looking pretty bleak. Not to undermine Anna’s judgment, but with this scenario, I hope she’s wrong.