Anna Wintour has made her first public appearance after being slammed by more than a dozen black journalists and former staffers, who hit out at the Vogue editor-in-chief over accusations that she used a racist slur, and discriminated against employees because of the color of their skin.
The 70-year-old fashion editor looked relaxed and carefree as she stepped out at a Metropolitan Museum event on Monday, just two days after the New York Times published an article in which 18 black journalists said she dismissed concerns about cultural appropriation, and favored employees who are thin, white, and from elite backgrounds.
Despite the furious backlash against her, Wintour – who issued an apology for her behavior to the publication – looked happy as can be while attending a preview for the Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibition, About Time: Fashion and Duration.
Nothing to worry about? Anna Wintour looked happy and relaxed as she made her first public outing in the wake of former black staffers calling for her resignation
Carrying on: The 70-year-old Vogue editor seemed eager to put all controversy behind her as she attended a preview of the Costume Institute’s exhibit About Time: Fashion and Duration
Brave face: On Saturday, 18 black journalists who have worked with Wintour accused her of favoring employees who are thin, white, and from elite backgrounds
Dressed in a patterned dress, shearling-and-leather coat, and a pair of heeled black boots, Wintour forwent her trademark sunglasses in favor of a simple black face mask – however the protective covering failed to hide her beaming smile as she walked around the exhibit, which is due to open to the public on October 29.
At one point, the Vogue editor was seen laughing happily while pointing at one of the pieces on display, while other images show her posing alongside her long-time collaborator Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute.
Wintour’s sunny disposition at the event was a marked change from the very somber tone she took when issuing a statement to the Times, in which she apologized for ‘mistakes’ she has made in the past concerning discrimination and diversity at Vogue.
‘I strongly believe that the most important thing any of us can do in our work is to provide opportunities for those who may not have had access to them,’ Wintour, who has been Vogue’ editor in chief since 1988 and Condé Nast’s artistic director since 2013, making her the editorial leader of all its titles, said.
‘Undoubtedly, I have made mistakes along the way, and if any mistakes were made at Vogue under my watch, they are mine to own and remedy and I am committed to doing the work,’ she added.
The Times piece was published at the end of a rocky week for Wintour, who is said to have split from her partner of 20 years, telecoms tycoon and entrepreneur Shelby Bryan, according to reports published on Wednesday.
Offensive: 11 journalists quoted called for Wintour’s resignation, citing offensive incidents involving her use of the word ‘pickaninny’, and cultural appropriation controversies
Keeping calm: The Vogue editor-in-chief forwent her traditional sunglasses at Monday’s event, instead wearing a black face mask with her patterned dress and shearling coat
Strike a pose: Wintour stopped to snap some pictures alongside her long-time collaborator Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Costume Institute (left) and Max Hollein, Director of the Met
Go-to: As always, Wintour’s dark blonde hair was styled in a sleek bob that hung around her ears, and she spent much of the time with her hands in her pockets
In the Times, 11 journalists quoted called for Wintour’s resignation, citing offensive incidents involving her use of the word ‘pickaninny’, and cultural appropriation controversies regarding Kendall Jenner’s false gold teeth and Karlie Kloss’s Vogue photo shoot as a Japanese geisha.
However, Naomi Campbell, one of the world’s first black supermodels, who appeared on the cover of Wintour’s first September issue in 1989, vehemently defended the editor.
And three other people of color told the Times that Condé Nast had made positive changes and that Wintour had promoted them to top roles.
The Times article details a number of examples of alleged racism under Wintour’s leadership.
In 2017, Wintour used an offensive racial term in an email as she raised questions about whether a photo shoot of black models wearing bonnets would itself be perceived as offensive.
‘Don’t mean to use an inappropriate word, but pica ninny came to mind,’ Wintour wrote.
Fury: A black staffer expressed outrage that Vogue didn’t condemn Kendall Jenner’s fake gold teeth in 2017, and Wintour reportedly replied ‘Well I honestly don’t think that’s a big deal’
Upset: Model Karlie Kloss (seen in February 2020) appeared in a ‘yellowface’ geisha outfit in 2017, but Wintour reportedly said the feature could not be cut due to its ‘enormous cost’
Wintour splits with longtime beau Shelby Bryan
Earlier this week, reports emerged that Anna Wintour and her long term partner Shelby Bryan had reportedly split after 20 years together.
The relationship between the Vogue editor, 70, and the Texas-born investor, 74, has been cooling since 2013 and the couple have only rarely been seen in public together since, Page Six reported.
The powerful pair began dating back in 1999, with their romance causing a stir among New York’s elite because Bryan reportedly walked out on his wife to be with Wintour.
Tongues have been wagging about Wintour’s friendship with actor Bill Nighy — since 2010 the pair have been spotted together at fashion shows, theatres and restaurants in New York and London.
In a statement to the Times, Wintour said: ‘I was trying both to express my concern for how our readers could have interpreted a photo and raise the issue for discussion, and I used a term that was offensive. And for that, I truly apologize.’
When Wintour asked a black assistant to weigh in on the photo shoot, the assistant said the image was not offensive, but expressed displeasure at being asked to render a verdict as a junior staff member, according to the Times.
In another 2017 incident, Kendall Jenner appeared at a London fashion week party wearing fake gold teeth, which a white Vogue writer described as ‘a playful wink to the city’s free-spirited aesthetic — or perhaps a proverbial kiss to her rumored boyfriend, A$AP Rocky.’
The Times reports that a black Vogue staffer expressed outrage, saying that the gold teeth were cultural appropriation.
A top lieutenant brought the issue to Wintour’s attention, writing: ‘If Kendall wants to do something stupid fine but our writers (especially white ones) don’t need to weigh in and glorify it or ascribe reasons to it that read culturally insensitive.’
Wintour appeared dismissive of the cultural appropriation crisis, responding: ‘Well I honestly don’t think that’s a big deal.’
Also in 2017, white model Karlie Kloss drew cultural appropriation accusations when she appeared in Vogue in a geisha outfit, with her face in pale makeup and her hair dyed black.
The photo shoot in Japan drew immediate accusations of ‘yellowface’.
End of an era? Wintour recently split with her partner of 20 years, telecoms tycoon and entrepreneur Shelby Bryan. Wintour and Bryan are pictured together in 2001
Leader: Wintour has been Vogue’ editor in chief since 1988 and Condé Nast’s artistic director since 2013, making her the editorial leader of all its titles
After internal cries of alarm over the feature, Wintour reportedly replied that it could not be cut because of its ‘enormous expense.’
Kloss later apologized, tweeting: ‘These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive.’
That tweet reportedly angered Wintour, who received a personal message from Kloss saying: ‘I imagine the feeling is mutual, that it was hurtful to see the criticism from our Japan trip.
‘I had written a short piece on social media as I wanted to make known that it was never my intention to offend or upset anyone from this spread.’
Wintour dryly replied: ‘Thanks Karlie another time please give us a heads up if you are writing about a Vogue issue.’
In another shocking incident, Wintour reportedly mused about the possibility of deleting a Condé Nast writer’s reply to a company social media account criticizing ‘white editors.’
Over the summer, Bon Appétit’s Instagram feed was flooded with comments following explosive claims that people of color featured in its cooking videos were paid less than white people, and that ethnic recipes were being ‘whitewashed’
Making amends? This year’s September issue of Vogue, the most important of the year, was dedicated to black culture and contributors
Defense: Naomi Campbell, one of the first black supermodels, who appeared on the cover of Wintour’s first September issue in 1989 (above), vehemently defended the editor
Priya Krishna, a Condé Nast freelancer, chimed in with a comment on Bon Appétit’s Instagram: ‘I have been forced to think outside of myself and my identity my entire career. So why can’t white editors change their mindset now?’
The Times reports that Wintour asked to have the item removed, but by the time of her request, the Krishna post had been online for hours, and Wintour was warned that deleting it would only attract more attention.
When the social media team suggested posting new content that would push the item down in users’ feeds, Wintour approved the plan, two people involved in the discussion told the newspaper.
Wintour also drew criticism for not appearing during a large Condé Nast meeting on race in June, despite serving as head of the company’s diversity and inclusion council.
Condé Nast says that 42 percent of its editors are now non-white. This year’s September issue of Vogue, the most important of the year, was dedicated to black culture and contributors.
Radhika Jones, who is the daughter of an Indian mother and white American father, replaced Graydon Carter as the editor in chief of Vanity Fair in 2017, and defended Wintour, who was on the small committee which elevated her.
‘My experiences with Anna have been nothing but positive,’ Jones told the Times. ‘She’s supportive of my vision and she understands what I’ve been trying to achieve and she has helped me to achieve it.’
Criticism: Black fashion titan André Leon Talley (above), a former top editor at Vogue who left in 2013, blasted Wintour’s apology, calling her a ‘colonial broad’ and ‘entitled’
However, some anonymous current and former staffers told the newspaper that they though Wintour presided over a racist culture at the magazine.
‘Fashion is b***hy,’ one black former staff member told the newspaper. ‘It’s hard. This is the way it’s supposed to be. But at Vogue, when we’d evaluate a shoot or a look, we’d say ‘That’s Vogue,’ or, ‘That’s not Vogue,’ and what that really meant was ‘thin, rich and white.’ How do you work in that environment?’
It follows Wintour’s mea culpa in a June 4 internal memo, as protests over the death of George Floyd gripped the nation and internal revolt threatened the top brass at Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Bon Appétit, among other titles.
‘I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators,’ wrote Wintour.
‘We have made mistakes, too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes,’ she continued.
After the memo leaked, black fashion titan André Leon Talley, a former top editor at Vogue who left in 2013 following a falling-out with Wintour, blasted her apology in a podcast interview.
‘Dame Anna Wintour is a colonial broad,’ Talley said. ‘She’s part of an environment of colonialism. She is entitled and I do not think she will ever let anything get in the way of her white privilege.’