The months of waiting for Anna Wintour’s twelve-minute 60 Minutes segment that aired tonight could not have been more worth it. Not only did it offer a glimpse of Candid Anna — Anna the Human Being, the Anna who gossip columnists would not have us think exists — but also amazing commentary by fashion outsider Morley Safer. “She bears a look that says, ‘I’m the boss and you’re boring,’” Morley says. “She’s been portrayed as Darth Vader in a frock … or is she really just peaches and cream with a touch of arsenic?” Morley quickly asks Anna if she agreed with the way Jerry Oppenheimer characterizes her in his unauthorized biography of her, Front Row, wasting no time asking if Anna is in fact a bitch. “I hope I’m not,” Anna replies. “I try not to be. But I like people who represent the best of what they do, and if that turns you into a perfectionist, then yes, I am.”
Morley and Anna spend a good part of the segment exploring the question of whether she is a bitch. Anna doesn’t seem like a bitch here. She calls Vogue “a glamorous girlfriend” — and that’s how she comes across. She seems like the kind of lady we’d want to go shopping with and have brunch with, during which time she’d probably offer excellent advice on man problems. Anna calls the rumor that Condé Nast staffers aren’t allowed to get on the elevator with her “a complete exaggeration.” She notes that some members of her staff have worked for her for fifteen to twenty years. “If I’m such a bitch, they must be gluttons for punishment,” she says.
Yet she also seems like a whip cracker with her staff. Inside the not-very-glamorous-looking Vogue offices, André Leon Talley — who makes for stellar b-roll sashaying down the hall in a cream crocodile coat — tells Morley, “It’s not like a tea party here. We work very hard.” He continues, “Let’s say that Anna can be intimidating. I think that’s her armor. She is not a person that’s going to show you emotions ever. She’s like a doctor … Some of us can’t cope with that. We need to be loved.” (The Cut gives free hugs with coffee dates, André.)
And cut to Fashion Week! Morley’s in the enviable position of sitting next to Anna in Paris and Milan at shows like John Galliano’s. Does he appreciate it? Well, he describes the experience as “part dazzling, part Rocky Horror Show.” He sees “models that look as angry as they are emaciated [wearing] clothes fit for a cadaver.” He might not “get” fashion, but at least he has something in common with Anna — he tells us how he really feels.
Morley goes with Anna to visit Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière, who says of his design process, “There is always a moment where you question if Anna will like it or not.” Karl Lagerfeld sits down with Morley and says Anna is the “most famous fashion journalist in the world” because she “says what she thinks.” John Galliano calls Anna his “fairy godmother,” and says he wouldn’t be at Dior today if it weren’t for her. LVMH chief Bernard Arnault confesses he wouldn’t have hired John had it not been for Anna’s urging. Back in New York, Anna coddles up-and-coming designers, like Alexander Wang, whose showroom she visits. Wearing her sunglasses to hide potential boredom, Alex shows her a silver minidress. Anna asks how much it is. He says $1,200. “That’s very reasonable,” she replies.
Thankfully we get a brief look at the Met gala, including Kanye West’s performance “Flashing Lights” — all too appropriate for a crowd that most certainly believes in shoes and cars and couture from the store’s departments. And of course Morley asks Anna if she’s leaving Vogue anytime soon. “Not at all,” she replies. “To me this is a really interesting time to be in this position. And I think it would be in a way irresponsible not to put my best foot forward and lead us into a different time.” Morley asks, “When the time comes, will you go quietly?” Anna answers, “Certainly. Very quietly.” What does that mean? We thought we had her (sort of) figured out after these twelve minutes, but then that last question brought up more questions than we started with. And that is why this woman is so, so fascinating. But still, should the chance arise, we wouldn’t be nearly as terrified to have brunch with her.