‘Sport has infiltrated all of fashion’: Anna Wintour on Vogue World, sport and UK arts

As Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, finalised plans for her third instalment of Vogue World, an entertainment extravaganza that will take place in Paris this month, she expressed hope that some of the French attitude towards fashion might rub off on the UK.

“I have not read what I assume will be the next prime minister’s stand on the arts but hopefully he can be convinced to support not only the arts organisations but also fashion in this country, which is such an important part of the economy,” she told the Guardian on Monday at Condé Nast’s offices in London.

While France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, regularly hosts events for designers at the Élysée Palace, acknowledging the importance of the industry as France’s top export sector, Wintour believes that in the UK the fashion industry continues to be misunderstood, despite contributing more than £60bn to the British economy.

“Over the years I have seen prime ministers host events at Downing Street and say a lot of the right things but I’m not sure how knowledgable they are about how many jobs the fashion industry creates in this country or how important it is to [London] in so many different ways.

“So I’m hoping whoever the next prime minister is will be very open to it,” she said, adding that she was hopeful “we can all lobby the government to do more”.

Ruling out any rumoured plans to move back to the British capital – saying “I love spending time here but New York is very much my home” – Wintour described the importance of fashion to French culture.

“I remember flying into Paris for Yves Saint Laurent’s final couture show in 2002 and my driver greeted me almost in floods of tears. Fashion touches the whole city. They realise how important it is and what it means to their culture.”

It is in this fashion capital that the third instalment of Vogue World will take place in the Place Vendôme on 23 June, with a cast of more than 500 stars, including the models Kendall Jenner and Ashley Graham, Olympic athletes – the event will be focused on sport – and surprise musical performers descending on the square in the first arrondissement alongside 800 ticketed seats, which are open to the public.

Sport is the focus of the Vogue event. Photograph: Bardia Zeinali/Vogue

Orchestrated by Wintour and her global team, the event will last for less than 60 minutes but is set to go down in French history as a fashion coup. Asked if she gets nervous, she said: “Of course, it’s a huge undertaking.”

Wintour, who has been the global chief content officer for Condé Nast since 2020, says she is working closely with the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, on the event, which aims to celebrate 100 years of French fashion. She says Hidalgo has been “amazing from the word go. She understands what we are trying to achieve and who we are trying to honour.”

The Paris edition of Vogue World follows its inaugural version in 2022 in which the singer Lil Nas X performed while Serena Williams strode down the cobbled streets of New York’s Meatpacking District.

A London iteration in September confirmed Wintour’s position as the most powerful person in fashion as she persuaded everyone from Kate Moss and Stormzy to Ian McKellen to take part, raising more than £2m for London-based arts organisations.

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This time proceeds from ticket sales will go to Secours Populaire, a French nonprofit that promotes access to sport for children. Third-row tickets start from £1,895. Some tickets will be given free to fashion students and aspiring athletes.

Mark Guiducci, US Vogue’s creative editorial director said they were aiming to raise at least €1m for the cause, but alongside individual contributions from a number of organisations and donors expected the final figure to be much higher.

The French fashion editor, Carine Roitfeld, Off-White’s creative director Ibrahim Kamara and fashion historian Alexandre Samson will oversee the event’s fashion content, which is to feature looks from each decade since 1924, the last time the Olympics took place in Paris. Wintour says they are aiming to honour past designers and those who are “very much part of the French scene today.”

Each decade will be paired with a different sport, from cycling to breakdancing with looks from houses including Chanel and Balenciaga. Cara Delevingne will host a live stream. “If a ticket isn’t an option for you then the best seat in the house will be watching it live,” said Guiducci.

Asked about the growing fusion of sport and fashion such as this summer’s tenniscore trend, Wintour said: “It’s interesting over the years that I’ve worked with Vogue to see how sport has infiltrated really all of fashion.

“At Vogue we always embraced the world of sport and integrated it with the world of fashion just as we have done with musicians and theatre and film. I think fashion is so inclusive today and athletes are global superstars of today and tomorrow. It’s the right timing.”

The Guardian

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