DOES ONLY HER HAIRDRESSER KNOW FOR SURE?: Maybe it’s the hot weather in the U.S. and Europe, or her daughter’s upcoming wedding on Saturday, but speculation about Anna Wintour’s exit from Vogue, and even her possible successor, has reached a crescendo louder than a tea kettle on full boil.
Numerous industry sources have insisted in recent weeks that Wintour is indeed set to leave her 30-year post as editor in chief of American Vogue, with the reveal of a soft exit thought to be coming after the all-important September issue is released, which usually happens around mid-August. The increased speculation comes in the run-up to fashion’s version of a royal wedding (the real one already happened, remember?), when Wintour’s daughter Bee Shaffer, who works in Broadway theater production and is a fixture in Vogue’s party coverage, on Saturday marries Francesco Carrozzini, a photographer and the son of the late Italian Vogue editor in chief Franca Sozzani. Vogue’s September issue, vital to its yearly revenue, is set to close the following weekend.
So much Vogue-ing has sent observers into a tizzy — even as representatives of Condé Nast continue to emphatically deny there is any change afoot in Wintour’s role. A spokeswoman said “there is still no truth to these rumors” and a source noted Wintour is already planning out her fall work calendar.
But it is the summer silly season, so Condé’s denials have done nothing to quell talk of her exit — and that British Vogue editor in chief Edward Enninful will move from London to New York to take over American Vogue (although Mark Holgate, Sally Singer, Amy Astley and even Eva Chen have been mentioned as possibilities, too). A spokeswoman for British Vogue said rumors of Enninful succeeding Wintour are “categorically false.”
Even more intriguing than all of that is the guessing game as to what Wintour’s next move would be if she were to step down.
Most observers insist that Wintour might give up Vogue, but only so she can take on an even loftier title at Condé that would give her even more power than she already has (“queen,” maybe?). Then there are those who believe she’s leaving Condé altogether to become more involved in politics, having whetted her appetite over the years as a major Democratic booster for President Obama (successful) and even more so for Hillary Clinton (not successful). Others think she’ll head back to her native England, something she’s said to have been eager to do for quite a while (rumors she was going to become Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s under both Obama or Clinton, if she’d won, have been circulating for years). The thinking is Wintour would lead a new project or even possibly start some type of formal work with the royal family there. The latter rumor seems to have cropped up after she was seated next to Queen Elizabeth II at Richard Quinn’s fashion show in February, but she also last spring received her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire from the queen.
It’s worth noting that none of these rumors — all presented to WWD as more fact than guess, as gossips tend to do — have Wintour giving herself over to retirement to tend her garden on Long Island and fine-tune her tennis game. Instead, people seem to think that, should Wintour indeed leave Vogue or Condé, it would be for something that would catapult her into an even larger pool of influence and have her continue as an operator extraordinaire. Speaking of Wintour when she received her artistic director’s title, Charles Townsend, the-then chairman and chief executive officer of Condé, called her “maybe the greatest marketer” the organization had ever had.
Whatever is, or isn’t happening, no one seems interested in talking about Vogue or Wintour outside the context of her possible exit. Perhaps they’re only daring to dream.
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