As you know, one feature of the relatively new Thursday ‘Style’ section of The New York Times, is a weekly column entitled, ‘On The Street: Then’, which makes wonderful use of fashion historian/ style chronicler Bill Cunningham’s extraordinary and vast photographic archives, along with copy written by Ruth La Ferla.
As a supplement to Bill’s Sunday column, these black and white pictures were taken for past columns which appeared in the paper (some well over 20 years ago) and have included from time to time, images of well known fashionistas ( I have spotted Josh Patner with his flying shirttails and Evyan Metzner in her long printed granny dress). Of course, I can’t say that I was instantly positive I knew who they were so I had to look a few times to make sure. Time certainly does that. And many of these shots include pictures of individuals who don’t necessarily dress or look the same way today as they might have back ‘when’. I think it’s safe to say most of us go through our different ‘periods’ and some are better than others.
But what struck me today was the immediately identifiable and unmistakable shot of Anna Wintour, taken on August 4, 1991, (“Shifts and Sheaths Return in Full Force”), looking almost exactly the way she looks now (though she is a bit blonder these days). Wearing her trademark oversized black sunglasses, and brunette bob- not one hair out of place, she is clad in another one of her trademarks -- the slim sheath -- accessorized with a tasteful and demure strands of pearls, tailored cuff, Manolo Blahnik sling backs, and not a purse in sight (another one of her ‘signatures’). It seems that not only has her body not changed in all these years, but nor has her fashion persona.
I think one can safely say that Anna Wintour would most likely NOT have found herself as a subject in the opposite pictorial, “Cyclists' Garb”, August 23, 1987, which included shots of unsuspecting passersby wearing their “skinny, sometimes unsightly body casings”. I have a feeling that some if not all those individuals who were photographed, might have cringed over their morning coffee, and asked in disbelief, “Did I really wear THAT?”
I remember awhile ago, Anna Wintour was publicly criticized for being too ‘set’ in her look (I can’t say for sure, but I think the ‘accuser’ was Candace Bushnell) and that I completely disagreed with her criticism. Quite frankly, I felt then (as I do now) that this is all to her credit. In a business filled with so many fashion victims, and at a time when fashion AND individuals change with the wind, it is precisely Ms. Wintour’s consistently strong image that is one of her strongest assets. By the way, I believe that is that Nina Griscom in the shot above her looking very chic and trim. Nina certainly has not changed much either.
- Posted by Marilyn Kirschner