Will Her Excellency Wear Prada?

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

Will Her Excellency Wear Prada?


Byline: Sebastian Shakespeare

IS ANNA Wintour set to be US ambassador to London? There is great excitement in New York that Barack Obama will appoint US Vogue's editor-in-chief as the successor to Louis Susman, who is expected to retire this year. It would be the apotheosis of Wintour's glamorous career -- and mean a return to the country of her birth.

The formidable Wintour, who supposedly inspired the monstrous boss in the book and film The Devil Wears Prada, has been in charge of American Vogue for the past 20 years. She is already a one-woman ambassador for the fashion industry and has carved out a niche as a fundraiser for the the US president. Just this month she was named a "top bundler" for Barack Obama, having raised more than half a million dollars for his Victory Fund.

There is a predecent for an Englishwoman to be US ambassador. The socialite Pamela Harriman was appointed by Bill Clinton as US ambassador to Paris in 1993 (she had been married to Winston Churchill's son Randoph and later Averell Harriman).

Wintour, 62-year-old daughter of former Evening Standard editor Sir Charles Wintour and his American wife Eleanor, has dual nationality. London socialite and interior designer Nicky Haslam tells me: "She would outdo Pamela Harriman: she is even more stylish, and has more sense of fun. As much as I loved her, Pamela didn't have much sense of humour. Anna has a lot of English friends. It will be half like coming home for her."

While she has consistently dismisssed suggestions that she may be considering a new job, her personal connections -- her long-term Texan consort Shelby Bryan was a key Clinton-era fundraiser -- and her networking abilities make her a natural choice for such a high-profile role. There have been other signs in recent days that her antennae have become more attuned to geopolitics.

Last weekend she publicly disowned the Bashar al Assad's wife Asma, about whom Vogue ran a highly complimentary article a year ago, describing her as "glamorous, young and very chic" and "the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies". Ms Wintour has now issued a statement condemning the regime: "Subsequent to our interview, as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that Syria's leader's priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue. …

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