[A] peek into the soul that inhabits the iconic bob and sunglasses is what the book promises. On the cover, Wintour smirks from behind her armor, her arms crossed defiantly, as if challenging the reader to pierce the veil. The author, Amy Odell, tries valiantly ... The book is the product of over 250 interviews and exhaustive archival research ... Odell’s extensive reporting dredges up a wealth of delightful details ... Anna is a biography with naturally completist goals, so these details are scattered across a sprawling work that sometimes, well, sprawls ... But Odell rarely achieves sufficient altitude to situate Wintour in the flow of history — to fill in the background and the floor underneath her Manolo Blahnik shoes. Our subject does this, and our subject does that, but I wished at times that the focus on her would loosen just a bit, because Odell’s insights into how fashion magazines work (or worked) are fascinating when they arrive ... You’ll walk away knowing every step — and misstep — in Wintour’s famous ascent to the heights of magazinedom, but without a working theory of the case, no conceptual framework to pack it all into and remember it by ... At times, the profound pull of her power seems to distort Odell’s efforts ... Odell doesn’t seem to have her mind made up about Wintour: Is she a cold apparatchik of this harsh industry, or an exacting, driven and visionary boss who is subject to sexist double standards? The text leans toward the latter interpretation, but includes anecdotes that provide grist for the former ... The resulting portrait is vexingly quantum: one moment packed with fantastic morsels of gossip, and at others strikingly obsequious.
The longtime Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast global editorial director and global chief content officer seems to exist in her own eco-system ... How did that come to be? Well, if you want answers, you won’t find them in this book ... [Anna] is deadly serious in her ambitions, and her creation of her own mythology is fascinating. She deserves a more acute analysis of her life. But perhaps she didn’t want it ... To what degree she collaborated in the writing of this book is unclear ... While we get some delightful glimpses into her home life...there is little examination of her professional skills, or of her weaknesses, from people operating at a similar level ... I would have loved to hear what the big-name designers—Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Donatella Versace—could add to this portrait ... She survives not because she is an excellent magazine editor, which she is, but because she understands power and what other powerful people want and need. How frustrating it is then not to get a greater understanding of how this enigmatic woman operates ... What is her opinion of … well, actually, anything? For that we will, unfortunately, have to wait for another book.
A takedown biography of Wintour would have been easy, and Odell resists the temptation, seeking to paint a more nuanced portrait without any input from Wintour herself ... But the book lacks a strong point of view. Is Wintour a tyrant who should have been let go from Vogue years ago, or an effective boss whose leadership methods would be readily praised in male form? Odell, an opinionated writer, is curiously reticent on these and other questions ... Wintour obsessives will no doubt revel in the details of her diet (whole-milk lattes, rare steaks, caprese salads without the tomatoes), and management style. But as for the woman behind the manicured bob and dark sunglasses? The mystery remains intact.
There are testaments to Wintour’s personal and professional generosity and loyalty, which can sometimes seem to exceed reason ... Odell’s book is deeply sourced and rich with anecdotes. Although she’s clearly sympathetic to her subject, she’s direct in addressing Wintour’s missteps. If it never truly takes you behind the dark glasses and into Wintour’s psyche, that’s hardly Odell’s fault. With Wintour, the style truly is the substance: her entire life is a tribute to the fact that, however trivial fashion might seem to those on the outside and however silly it often is, being chic is a serious business.
... while journalist Amy Odell has indeed found several witnesses willing to testify on the record to the existence of this corporeal being, she is, alas, unable to go much further; to explain what motivates Wintour, let alone to reveal what keeps her awake at night (assuming she can tell it’s the night). Her book might well be based on 250 sources and come with notes longer than the concordance to Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. However, full disclosure, it is not – unless, of course, the reader was hitherto unaware that Wintour’s'ability to empathise is debated' ... its author’s refusal to poke fun at anything, however ludicrous, is also the only reason I enjoyed her book. If the pages (and pages) she devotes to Wintour’s assistants are comprehensive to the point of tediousness, it’s hard not to laugh at her utmost seriousness, even when dealing with the mad and the risible ... my disappointment with those whose self-appointed job it is to disseminate the activities of the industry and its stars grows incrementally, and Odell is no exception. While her interviewees assert all sorts of things about Wintour, only rarely does she back their statements with evidence. As for Wintour’s mean side...Odell has an alarming tendency to give sympathy to the undeserving ... They’re all in it together, these people, tied in a silk knot that this book, like so many others before it, does not even try to unpick.
In Ms. Odell’s workmanlike account, Ms. Wintour is a regimented contrast with her zany antecedents atop fashion magazines ... Ms. Odell’s book is a step toward decoding Anna Wintour, but it’s far from the final word.
Odell lifts a couture curtain to reveal the woman behind the famous sunglasses and glossy bob ... In relating Anna’s undisputed remarkableness, Odell doesn’t gloss over her missteps, either. While Odell’s nimble writing moves at a clip, the extent and detail here make this perfect for fashion devotees and fans of publishing industry tales, as Anna’s career coincides with sea changes in magazine journalism, from celebrities replacing cover models to, most consequentially, the birth of the internet.
Odell interviewed more than 250 industry and personal contacts to assemble the most comprehensive biography of the media icon, although Wintour herself declined to be interviewed for the book. The biography sometimes reads more like a fashion history than a life story ... A challenging read for those lacking industry knowledge, but it still fascinates with Odell’s well-documented account of Wintour’s broad influence.
The life and influence of fashion mogul Anna Wintour gets an engrossing examination in this account ... Odell’s snappy narrative charts her relentless mission to make the magazine 'the biggest, most valuable... in its category' ... What scintillates, however, are the intimate details about a famously inscrutable subject...as well as the blunt treatment of Wintour’s more problematic sides, including her history of body shaming. This fascinating look at an enigmatic figure will captivate sartorialists and Vogue acolytes.
As Odell acknowledges in her introduction, the frustrating fact is that 'the many people interviewed for this book had a hard time explaining why she is so powerful and what her power amounts to.' This biography could not be any more thorough on the who, what, when, where, and how of Wintour, but without the why, the enigma remains ... Why were these relationships so different? In this recollection, we never learn. More satisfying is the section dealing with the book and movie The Devil Wears Prada ... The book may satisfy fashion industry devotees, but Anna’s iconic sunglasses still don't come off.