WWD reached out to Wintour for her reaction to the election results, but the editor declined to comment.
Wintour has been a staunch Clinton supporter, raising money for the nominee and rallying the fashion industry behind her to get out the vote and donate to the campaign, among other things. She has held countless fund-raisers in Paris and London during collections and on the East and West Coasts, as well as a fashion-show fund-raiser in September. Even last week, just days before the election, Wintour joined forces with CFDA chairman Diane von Furstenberg and Clinton aide Huma Abedin to throw an exclusive fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at the home of Connie Milstein, owner of the Jefferson Hotel.
Wintour even gathered editors at Condé Nast with the CFDA and Instagram to launch a voter registration campaign.
In a sense, Wintour, a public figure, has played the role of power broker for fashion influencers and the Clinton campaign. Bringing together the two worlds, Wintour has advised Clinton on her wardrobe, approaching designers to dress the candidate for key campaign moments. Vogue also ran a lengthy, positive profile of Abedin in the months leading up to the election without more than a nod to the scandal involving Anthony Weiner, the aide’s disgraced husband.
That aside, vogue.com also became a sort of advocacy vehicle for Clinton’s candidacy, which arguably was not an anomaly among magazine media sites. Case in point: On Wednesday, the day after the election, Vogue.com posted a story by Lynn Yaeger called “How to Light a Spark on This Very Dark Day.” The essay is a how-to on coping with the devastation of a Clinton loss and Trump victory, addressing civil rights victories that have formed American society today. Yaeger advocates readers to “rise” in the face of the results.
Other election stories have taken cues from Internet culture to include bold headlines and pointed reviews of the election, such as “Donald Trump Is Not an Aberration: Your Nightmare Election Recap,” to more clickbait, puffier ones like “Happy Anniversary! 14 Memorable Moments From Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 41-Year Marriage,” “Hillary Clinton Has a Few Thoughts on Kim Kardashian West’s Robbery,” “The Best Headbands of All Time, From Brigitte Bardot to Hillary Clinton.”
“It’s not an easy thing for a fashion magazine to cover an election,” the letter said. “In the early months of this campaign, we stumbled toward a cohesive plan for who and what to write about. It’s not that we were out of practice covering rapid-fire politics; it’s that we’d never obtained the practice that is built into the metabolism of a newspaper or TV station. But as the contest narrowed and our reflexes sharpened, our allegiances clarified.…So we set about to do what we could to boost his opponent: a woman with decades of experience, a commanding grasp on policy, and a genuine, deep-seated desire to serve the people of her country.”
As Elle astutely noted, reporting isn’t the stronghold of women’s magazines, but even as their stories took a more subjective, blog-like tone, there still was something a bit more loaded about Vogue’s involvement in the election.
The fashion title teetered a tightrope between advocacy and storytelling and news and activism. With the bitter election now in the rearview mirror, many questions loom for Vogue, women’s magazines and the fashion industry. To name a few: Did Vogue lose credibility with its readers? Should women’s magazines cover stories like news outlets? Did Wintour go too far in her role as editor? In light of fashion’s strong heritage in the political scene, will designers and magazine editors embrace the Trumps, beginning with whether any designer will voluntarily dress incoming Melania Trump for her inauguration gown. Interestingly, she thus far has been buying almost all the designer outfits she has worn during the campaign.