Anna Wintour ‘apologized’ to Vogue staff about ‘hurtful & intolerant’ environment

Anna Wintour

I’m covering some of the insidery media stories about big magazines and newspapers coming to terms with the racism in their own newsrooms and editorial rooms. And while I appreciate that the events of the past three weeks have been a major turning point for so many people and so many businesses and organizations, I do feel like some of this sh-t is too little, too late. Awareness of racism, awareness of Black Lives Matter, awareness of larger issues of diversity, representation and inclusion didn’t just start this month or this year. In many cases – the NYT’s newsroom, the Vogue editorial room – there’s been long-standing criticism of the blinding whiteness and lack of diverse voices. But we’re just getting an apology from Anna Wintour NOW. And “we” are not really getting it – she only sent an internal email to Vogue staff:

Vogue’s Anna Wintour has apologized in an internal email for “mistakes” made in her 32-year tenure in not doing enough to elevate black voices on her staff and publishing images and stories that have been racially and culturally “hurtful or intolerant.” The fashion doyenne wrote in the June 4 email: “I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”

The magazine’s editor in chief, who is also Conde Nast’s artistic director and global content adviser, had no further comment Wednesday on the email obtained by The Associated Press. It was first revealed Tuesday in the New York Post. Wintour’s mea culpa surfaced soon after Adam Rapoport, the editor in chief of another Conde Nast title, Bon Appetit, resigned after a photo surfaced of him in brownface, amplifying outrage over how the food magazine treats employees of color. On Monday, the top editor and a co-founder of the lifestyle site Refinery29, Christene Barberich, resigned after former employees complained on social media of a toxic culture and unfair treatment of staff members of color over the years.

Meanwhile, Samira Nasr on Wednesday was named the first editor in chief of color in the 153-year history of U.S. Harper’s Bazaar.

In her email, Wintour referenced the country’s “historic and heartbreaking moment” after the death of George Floyd and other black people at the hands of police, events that sparked rage and grief in protests playing out for more than two weeks around the world.

“I want to start by acknowledging your feelings and expressing my empathy towards what so many of you are going through: sadness, hurt, and anger too. I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like. But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognizing it and doing something about it is overdue,” Wintour told her staff. She called for the tumult to be a “time of listening, reflection, and humility for those of us in positions of privilege and authority. It should also be a time of action and commitments.”

Wintour didn’t specify what content she was referring to as offensive, or what steps will be taken to rectify hiring and bring on a new creative approach. She pledged, “On a corporate level, work is being done to support organizations in a real way. These actions will be announced as soon as possible.”

[From The AP]

Too little too late or better late than never? Both are fine with me. Anna Wintour has been aware of diversity issues/racism issues at Vogue and Conde Nast for years. For years, she barely allowed women of color on the cover of Vogue, although she’s gotten *slightly* better about that recently (but the women of color featured on Vogue covers are almost always very light-skinned). Wintour also used Andre Leon Talley as an inclusion prop for years too – if she “had” Talley, then she could have a 99% white staff. Basically, Wintour is still massively responsible for the lack of diversity on and behind Vogue’s covers and she’s been aware of her own racial blind spots this whole time. This apology needs to be better, and she needs to do better.

Anna Wintour at arrivals for 22nd Annual...

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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30 Responses to “Anna Wintour ‘apologized’ to Vogue staff about ‘hurtful & intolerant’ environment”

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  1. Seraphina says:

    🤣. Damage control. That is all that is. She is scared of what happened with Lea. Let the floodgates open.
    Between Tattler and this, I need lots of popcorn and a nice bottle of wine.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      I cancelled my subscription to Vogue the month they put Kin Kardashian on the cover.

      IMHO. Vogue has not really covered fashion and the fashion industry in the last 10 years.

      Harper’s Bazaar is a much better fashion magazine.

      • Seraphina says:

        I did as well. As soon as Kim got on, I stopped buying. When you can by your way in and side step standards, then there are no standards. Plus, I could never afford the crap they pedal. I agree that Harpers is a better magazine compared to vogue

      • xo says:

        same. never looked back.

    • Cosmo says:

      I agree. These people are only commenting because of whats happening now. I’m sure they are hoping it will all blow over and they can continue their racist ways.

    • Nievie says:

      Its true- like with UK vogue- you look at the Alex shulman years and the Eddie E stuff and its sooo different..

      UK vogue had about 4 models they used and that was it- Naomi, Jourdan, Alek Wek and Iman.

  2. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    As you say, she had Andre Leon Talley and iced him out – did he receive an apology email, I wonder? Given nuclear Wintour’s reputation, I sincerely doubt it. She’s bandwaggoning: there’s no sincerity there.

  3. Chica1971 says:

    Honestly, she needs to go. Vogue UK under Ennis and Italy are always much better and diverse. The Instagram has been more diverse under Covid 19 but it is still where white UES girls go to plan their wardrobes and find a husband.

  4. SarSte says:

    I attended Vogue’s Forces for Change event hosted by Edward Enninful earlier this year and whilst the panel was surprisingly diverse (even from a gender/sexual orientation perspective… except for body type), I walked away noting how completely unremarkable everyone’s perspectives on Vogue’s diversity and inclusion were. Almost nothing concrete was said and, of course, no acknowledgement of room to grow or next steps for the organisation (which anyone that works in or follows the fashion world knows is laughable). But then, that would have been acknowledging there might be “a problem”.

    • Mac says:

      All mainstream media in the US is majorly lacking in diversity. I’m sure plenty of people who only consume MSM were shocked by the response to George Floyd’s murder.

  5. AnnaKist says:

    Coquettish look aside, she’s a horrible woman. It’s not surprising, though; a lot of people who get to,and stay at, the top in any business are credited with being sociopathic. I can’t be the only one who (naively?) thinks you can be a decent, good, fair and just person to run a department or a company? I hope this momentum keeps up, because it’s causing a lot of arseholes to come out from under the rocks they’ve been hiding beneath.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This reminds me of some conversations I used to have with my boys 12 to 15 years ago. I told them to pay attention and that their generation would have front row seats to The Great Morph. Social media would play a huge role in nuking the establishment, searing holes in lies and shining supernova light on global status quo. Go ahead and make your apologies. You must. That’s a given. Implement changes. They have to be made. No question. But don’t, for one solitary second, think the bulk of us don’t realize where you’ve been historically and the decisions you’ve made for the ever-present ongoing climb and commitments made to stake your claim. And anyone having doubts need only fall down the back issue rabbit hole.

  7. Erin says:

    screw all these people and their performative bullshit. she’s only saying this now because she sees the changing tide coming for those like her and she doesn’t want to be caught up. We see you Anna.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Diana Vreeland was definitely 50 years ahead of her “fashion” time. Netflix has an excellent documentary on her & Vogue during her tenure as editor-in-chief.

      • Mumbles says:

        Second that recommendation. Caught that docu a few months ago and it was great. DV’s view of fashion was to take something that conventional viewers would consider a “flaw” and own the hell out of it, because that is what made you different. Wonky teeth? Long neck? Emphasize them.

        But back to Wintour. This post got it right that ALT was her prop all these years. Given how witty he is I assumed she hung out with him for fun but reading excerpts of his book it’s clear that’s not the case.

  8. Tanguerita says:

    She can do better by leaving. Wintour is an old-school benevolent racist with a blind spot for anything and anyone that’s not bland and blonde. Shulman was no different and her departure was a blessing for the british Vogue.

  9. MellyMel says:

    This is so performative! She’s had 30+ years to make changes, REAL changes and she hasn’t. BIPOC are the backbone of the fashion industry and she knows that. She needs to go ahead and retire. She should have done that years ago, but it’s really time now. The International Vogues are so much better.

    • Livvers says:

      This. I’m coming back at the end of the day to comment because it still pisses me off. That she has the GALL to “express her empathy” for the suffering from wrongs she herself has committed! This woman has been the _gatekeeper_ for 30+ years and she wants to use the word “mistakes”!? Mistakes are one-off events, this is a repeated pattern of exclusion and toxic racist working conditions.

  10. Courtney B says:

    Some gestures have been performative and others long overdue. Or both. But one thing really sticking out to me is how EASY some of them have been. Just like with metoo. Like nascar banning the confederate flag. Done. Shows that these things could’ve been done with no fuss, no muss years ago if they’d wanted to. It would’ve been super easy to have put models of color on these magazines. They may be sidelined but they’re there and some could’ve been given an extra boost by the cover.

  11. M Narang says:

    I agree. That apology is weak and everyone wants a cookie for acknowledging BLM. Black lives have always mattered. There’s no excuse for not fixing this long ago. There should be more black staff, a decision she has control over. There should also be more black models on the cover. Again. This issue is not new and she has control.

  12. Betsy says:

    I’ve been ready for Wintour to go for a while.

  13. lizardqueen says:

    I sincerely hope that she leaves, and soon. I haven’t bought or read an issue since they put KK on the front-though it hasn’t been good for years so I can’t say her cover was anything more than a confirmation that Vogue was going to be a more expensive People Magazine. No thank you.

  14. Geeena says:

    This is a total get ahead damage control attempt. I shudder to think what horrible things are about to come out.

    Say the names of those you’ve wronged Anna. Who was hurt? Who faced the intolerant environment? If there’s NDAs, release them so we can hear their stories.

    I don’t trust any corporate body releasing these general non-apologies if they don’t have the dignity and honesty to name the wronged employees or name the targeted groups. They stop short of admitting they perpetuate bigotry and racism.

  15. GirlMonday says:

    An apology only has value if change accompanies it. So my question is: where is the change?

  16. Lonnietinks says:

    I just came here to say that I hate her hairstyle, and the fact that she thinks it’s her signature speaks to her narcissism. No one cares about your haircut Anna.