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vogue_italiaI am worried that Anna Wintour is over fashion.

I saw a picture of her in line at the movies, presumably to see herself  in “The September Issue.” She was wearing  a flowered tee, skinny jeans and what looked to be a pair of beige Tods with no socks. This woman edits Vogue.

I was in line at the movies a few weeks ago. I was wearing a print tee, a pair of jeans and what actually were a pair of black Miu Miu sandals.  I do not edit Vogue.

And here lies the problem.  Anna Wintour, the  formidable editor of American Vogue thinks its okay to head off to the movies  (and pretty much everywhere else) wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  I dress like this all the time. This is not Fashion.  And frankly, I’m a little disappointed. I’ve been disappointed in Vogue for a long while, but I always assumed that Anna was still sitting on her editor’s tuffet dressed head to toe in the height of fashion. Instead she looks like she’s headed for the supermarket, the dry cleaner and Starbucks.

If this jeans and t-shirt thing was just a one off for Ms. Wintour — her off duty wardrobe if you will — I wouldn’t like it, but I’d be okay with it.  The woman can’t wear sky high Lauboutins all the time, I suppose.  But sadly, this is not the case. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of Anna during fashion week wearing a flowered dress and the big trademarks sunglasses. My mother dresses like this. Now, Mom is very stylish, but Mom is also an accountant in a small town in Massachusetts. Mom (and me and quite a few women around the world I would venture) look to Anna Wintour and Vogue to give us some options for when we are pretty bloody sick of our flowered shirtwaist dresses and boring little flats.

Instead what we get from Vogue is some kind of shabby chic lifestyle. Month after month Wintour shows us upperclass moms in crisp white shirts and straw tote bags frolicking by the sea with their handsome husband and lovely tow-haired children.  I would love to have that lazy old money lifestyle, maybe because Vogue does such a good job of making it so desirable. But what I really want and do not get from Vogue (well American Vogue — Italian Vogue is another story entirely)  is, you know,style. Art. Beautiful clothes, beautifully designed, that don’t look like anything I own while at the same time looking like everything I own, only better.  I want Vogue to show me how to look fresh, original and amazing. I want Vogue to inspire me to think about how I’m going to dress myself to meet the world.  Right now, it appears there isn’t anybody on the Vogue masthead who actually cares about where fashion is going.  (Even Andre Leon Talley is more interested in telling us where he is going  and what he’s wearing rather than what we could wear to wherever we need or want to go.)

What we need  is another  Diana Vreeland.  Right now.

At about 4:46 into this interview with the legendary editor of Harper’s and Vogue, Vreeland says she would never give fashion advice to Queen Elizabeth. “Absolutely not!” she declares. ” She dresses perfectly for her people. She knows her role better than any other woman in the world.”

Mrs. Vreeland knew that anybody could look fabulous.  Really, anybody. Even you. Even your Aunt Sadie. Even me.  She taught generations of women that with a little luck and some elbow grease, we can all dress perfectly for our roles.  That belief, combined with her innate sense of style, is what fashion should be.

One can only imagine what Mrs. Vreeland would think of  the Miranda Priestly character in “The Devil Wears Prada”  (a character based in part on Wintour) who is only interested in dressing a size and type of woman.  ” Is it impossible to find a lovely, slender, female paratrooper? Am I reaching for the stars here?” she asks, ” Not really.”

Rumors swirl that Anna is taking her last laps around the fashion scene. Seeing her dressing down and poking fun at herself on Letterman only highlights how depressing it she is that she runs one of the world’s most important fashion magazines: she’s an icon alright, but not a fashion icon, not a style icon. She’s a media icon. She’s famous for being a big city magazine editor;  not for her innate sense of style or preternatural fashion sense.

It seems like everyone – including celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe has more passion and enthusiasm for fashion than Anna does.  Whatever negative feelings I might have about Rachel the reality star, I love Rachel the stylist and fashion lover’s eye for trends and appreciation of the long and illustrious history of fashion. I want to write her off as a spoiled fashion victim and then she’ll do something lovely like admire the classic cut of a faux fur jacket.  Was it presumptuous to ask Karl Lagerfeld to alter a dress so it will be more palatable to American women when they see it on the red carpet? Of course it was, but everybody wins if that dress is a hit and the original vision isn’t completely trashed in the process.

Anna had the chance to get back into the game, well to invent the game when “Project Runway”  asked Wintour to be a permanent judge for its first season. But Anna passed and let Nina Garcia be the fashion editor who spots and rules on new American fashion. I just don’t think she gets it. Or she doesn’t want to get it. Or she doesn’t care.  Either way, this will not do.

Is it impossible to find another stylish, passionate, visionary Vogue editor? Am I reaching for the stars here?

Well, maybe.

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