NEW YORK — Anna Wintour's presence on the front row at fashion week is so valuable that a designer would willingly hold a show for her last-second arrival. Instead, the Vogue magazine editor comes in right at the announced start time for every show even though she knows that the way fashion time is kept, it likely won't start for another 40 minutes. I've always admired her for not pulling rank in this regard.
However, the most powerful woman in fashion can be intimidating. She rarely talks to reporters during this time before shows; a burly security guard waves off anyone who attempts to approach her.
"There were a lot of jewels for 12 o'clock in the morning. It was very impressive."
But at some point during every fashion week, she tells the guard to let me by and we spend several minutes together. I think it's the Houston connection. She regularly visits the Bayou City with steady squeeze, Shelby Bryan, a Houston native who lives in New York, but has family in Houston.
CultureMap: You were in Houston right before Thanksgiving (with Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing at a luncheon for top customers). What were your impressions?
Anna Wintour: There were a lot of jewels for 12 o'clock in the morning. It was very impressive. I was thrilled to meet them all. They couldn't have been lovelier. Ken and I had a nice little talk and we showed the (January) issue. I was trying to think of something different that would be fun for them to look at.
CM: When you are in Houston, where to you go to eat? Is there any special place that you like?
AW: Yes. There's Smith & Wollensky.
CM: You could do that in New York.
CM: On the runways for fall, designers seem to be highlighting a "bad girl" vs. "good girl" way of dressing.
AW: That comes from Miuccia Prada's influence. She's the one that really believes in that for a long time. And of course we're honoring her at the Met in May (at the Costume Institute gala). So they might have that on their minds.
I think it's been a great season. I thought Marc Jacobs was magical. Those Dickens' hats were amazing. Maria was saying she should have one in Russia the next time she's there.
CM: For the Houston customer, what excites you about fall that you might recommend?
AW: I thought Carolina Herrera's collection was beautiful, with all that very chic navy at the beginning and lots of color. It seemed very much that customer. Oscar (de la Renta) is very popular in Texas. But it's early in the season.
CM: What about for the younger Houston customer who is fashion forward?
AW: I loved the Alexander Wang show. Unfortunately it was a little dark (the way it was lighted) but his attitude, his street style is not looking backwards. So many designers look at references or are inspired by the mass. It just seemed to me this is a girl of the time.