Up until a short stint as a magazine editor, I hadn't ever paused to consider that this was a possible career path for me.
I remember when my role as the new editor of the publication was announced – I was so blown away by all the support and affirmations that this was an obvious choice. During the time, I was also informed that that announcement was one of the magazine's highest performing social media moments.
While it made me feel an immense amount of pressure, it also excited me because I was handed an opportunity to get to learn more and have closer proximity to an industry that was starting to feel like a fantasy and a distant Miranda Priestly (from The Devil Wears Prada) dream… until it didn't.
More importantly, it clarified the role in terms of the qualities one possesses when they see the world through the lens of an editor.
What stood out during that period, was having to explain what it was I actually did daily. I'd often resort to saying I do a lot of research – always reading, sourcing images, making mood boards, managing writers and essentially, seeing into the future.
Similarly, it is one of those roles that became a comical moment when I watched In Vogue: The Editor's Eye.
The 2012 documentary on Vogue magazine, its legacy and how it curated some of the most memorable and avant-garde moments in pop culture, is definitely an eye opener for those interested in the fashion media industry, as well as those who have contributed to making it what it is.
It features commentary from some of its industry leaders, as well as none other than the mother of Vogue and 'the devil who wears Prada' herself: Anna Wintour.
Even though her legacy barely made it through 2020 unscathed, there's much to be said about Wintour and her reinvention during an era where print media has run its course.
In fact, I think that the iconic editor's push towards a more digital approach has secured her longevity in the industry further. The global pandemic and lockdowns saw the decline of a lot of publications as far as print media goes. Wintour however, seized the opportunity by engaging with audiences through Vogue's Instagram page during quarantine, while partnering with leading fashion houses including Tom Ford.
During this period, she also came under much scrutiny ranging from the lack of representation on her pages over the years as well as her alleged ill treatment of her employees. Suffice to say, her reputation hasn't adapted as well with the times as her image has.
Say what you want about her but, over the decades, Wintour has performed at a level that has cemented her as an icon where fashion, media and pop culture collide. She's not only played the role of editor-in-chief of Vogue since the late '80s, but she's also become the chief content officer for mass media empire Condé Nast.
To top that, she also wears the hat of artistic director (Condé Nast) and global editorial director of Vogue.
So, what exactly is an editor's eye?
The role is one that comes with the gift of foresight. It requires one to have the ability to spot trends and execute that vision ahead of time. There is a level of influence and presence that these people exude, and it isn't necessarily dependent on the publication, but rather on what the role looks like because of women like Wintour and how she has navigated it.
Over the decades, she has been responsible for Vogue’s success and even its points of controversy. She can singlehandedly propel or destroy you with her opinion. That is the weight that her name holds in the world of fashion.
By telling the stories around some of the most famous and controversial photos that have graced its pages, In Vogue provides more context about the nature of the industry and what it entails. Past editors and fashion directors of the iconic fashion and lifestyle magazine (Grace Coddington, Tonne Goodman and the likes) ALL struggle to explain what an editor does – which is wild because they really are the backbone and the 'secret weapon' that keeps these machines running.
It is a world of wonder that reflects Miranda Priestly's cerulean sweater monologue to a tee. It is a world of perfectionism, constant learning and knowing that this "stuff" actually has everything to do with you. It makes you responsible for bringing intellectual perspectives to very visual world.
European Vogue editor Hamish Bowles aptly says: "It's almost impossible to explain. Essentially you are collaborating to create an image that you're trying to capture and also hold a mirror to the zeitgeist at the moment. It's our way of living in a different realm for a short period of time."
So, the next time you wonder what exactly these people do, just think of Miranda Priestly dragging Andy for filth over the cerulean sweater. It's never just a sweater and it's never just blue.
Currently, the global apparel market has been projected to grow at trillion-dollar rates by 2025, so remember that your choices don't exempt you from the industry. Every day you are a participant in choices that editors and directors have influenced you make from "a pile of stuff" by virtue of them always being ahead of the story.
- In Vogue: The Editor's Eye is streaming on Showmax