On Monday evening, Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton, the curator of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sat down with former CNN journalist Alina Cho at the Met for the first in a series of such talks that Cho is doing with the museum, called "The Atelier with Alina Cho." The vibe onstage was remarkably laid-back and conversational, and Cho coaxed some pretty amazing tidbits out of Wintour, ranging from that controversial April Vogue Kimye cover, advice the EIC gives to new designers and her last day with Oscar de la Renta.
On that kontroversial Kimye kover:
"I see the role of Vogue to reflect what’s going on in the culture. The first celebrity that I put on the cover of Vogue was Madonna, and that was considered completely controversial at the time, too. It’s such a long time ago probably no one remembers, but she was a very controversial figure. Now she’s part of the establishment. I think if we just remain deeply tasteful and just put deeply tasteful people on the cover, it would be a rather boring magazine! Nobody would talk about us. It’s very important that people do talk about us. Going back to Estée Lauder’s decision to make Kendall Jenner the face of Estée Lauder. What a fantastic decision that was! They have a wonderful brand that’s very traditionally American, and they decided they want to shake it up and reach a different audience. Now and again one has to do things like that. I think it’s part of the excitement and part of being a journalist. I hope another Kim Kardashian comes along this year!"
On her advice that new designers often ignore:
"In terms of what I tell young designers -- and I’m not sure any of them listen -- you need to remain focused, [and] find yourself a really good business partner. The other thing I urge them to do, and they certainly never listen to this, is it’s really worthwhile going to work for somebody else. So many of these young students come out of school and want to start their own businesses and that’s a slippery slope. It’s much better to go work for an existing designer and learn that way. But I think in today’s world where they think they can -- and [people] do become -- very famous overnight through social media, I think sometimes they are slightly misguided in thinking that they too can make a living that way."
On Oscar de la Renta's last words to her daughter, Bee Shaffer:
"He was so brave and so wonderful, joking with [Bee] about her love life... My daughter went over to kiss him goodbye and when we were driving off I said, 'What did Oscar say to you?' And she said, 'He said, 'Thank you for wearing my dress.' That’s the sort of man he was. To him the greatest pleasure was to see someone in his clothes. It was a joy for him. Life was a joy. He was the most extraordinary man. It’s unthinkable for me to think that he’s no longer with us. "