Back in ‘Time(s)’

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

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. I think this new feature in the NY Times is a great idea. I know there are many people who are not in the industry who are very interested in fashion of now and the past. Its always neat to see how things have changed, even in 5 years!!
    I was searching the net and founds this cool article on a “fashion district” in Vietnam. Its kind of interesting:
    Actually, the site that hosts the article is looking for more authors to post articles. I believe you can write about anything and everything and may even get paid for it.
    Oh, and thanks for the post on ‘how to get into a fashion show’!

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