Text by Samantha Critchell, Associated Press
NEW YORK - In fashion circles and beyond -- in the worlds of business, politics and entertainment -- she's just Anna, a worthy peer to Oprah and Martha.
And even though Anna Wintour's name might not be as instantly recognizable as Oprah Winfrey's or Martha Stewart's, Anna, American Vogue's editor-in-chief, might still be influencing unsuspecting consumers about what they wear, how they shop and what celebrity or cause is about to be the talk of the town.
That's why WSJ., the glossy lifestyle magazine published by The Wall Street Journal, is featuring her on its cover with an article exploring her power and influence in the fashion industry beyond the pages of her magazine.
"She's a really powerful figure in America ... someone whose power extends beyond what she does," says Deborah Needleman, editor of WSJ., which scored the rare profile of Wintour -- and posed cover photograph -- for its April issue.
Despite her image as an ice queen, those who know her say she can be loyal and even warm to those in her inner circle, which reads like a Who's Who list: Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Harvey Weinstein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Nicole Kidman, Roger Federer and Amar'e Stoudemire, among them.
The cover photo was shot by Mario Testino, another Team Anna player.
Friends and others who dreams of falling in that group don't dare say no to her, according to the article, which quotes Jacobs as saying: "If I get a request for something, there aren't two possible answers. First I get an email, then a phone call from someone at Vogue, and now I don't even bother to say no -- I know the next call is from her."
Jacobs is one of those who benefitted from Wintour's influence. She suggested Jacobs' name to LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault when he was looking for a designer to take over Louis Vuitton in 1997.
Needleman says "it's hard to imagine that Arnault wouldn't ask her for advice for something like Dior," referring to the future of the Christian Dior brand following the firing of designer John Galliano for his anti-Semitic outbursts. Dior is owned by LVMH; Galliano had gotten his position with Wintour's help.
"You have to wonder, how does one person have such a broad influence?" says Needleman, adding: "She's basically a global brand."
Her biggest feat yet might be the shopping phenomenon that is Fashion's Night Out, a huge-scale retail event she masterminded in 2009 in New York and made bigger last year to span the globe. She persuaded stores to host lavish parties mixing celebrities and shoppers, offer discounts and pour free champagne, then she nudged consumers to open their wallets despite the recession.
"She basically created a holiday from scratch," Needleman says. "Who else has the power to take New York and create a holiday?"