Here is your mid-week special. I did try and find one that was seasonally appropriate, but then I decided a break from Christmas might be a bit of a relief.
I saw Anna Wintour in Oxford. It was so strange. Like seeing a unicorn in a shopping centre. A creature from another world, suddenly dropped down here among the humdrum mortals.
Not that Oxford is quite the real world. In winter, without the roaming herds of American tourists and despite the ordinariness of its chain store shopping strip and ugly traffic system, it still maintains its extraordinary Hogwarts magic.
I was strolling about with my brother Nick, who lives there, on his personal tour of ‘Oxford’s back passages’. En route to one of the obscure little vistas he loves to share, we came round the corner from the Bodleian Library going towards the Radcliffe Camera and there she was admiring a building. Miss Wintour. It was so odd.
Not because I have never seen the international-fashion-legend editor of American Vogue in the flesh before. Quite the opposite. I spend about four weeks a year seeing her every day at the Milan and Paris fashion shows. I have stood behind her in the loo queue at the Milan exhibition centre for heaven’s sake. It was seeing her completely outside that fashion context that was so strange. It made me feel quite unusual.
Enjoying a family outing on a wintry English Sunday, I was definitely in civilian mode (jeans, trainers, pea coat, Greek fisherman’s cap), but she seemed still very much on duty, as immaculately dressed as ever in a boxy fur jacket (Prada), a neat burgundy tailored skirt and very high-heeled boots. Her bobbed hair was as sleek as ever, her legs were still pin thin, she was wearing her signature black sunnies, and she wasn’t carrying a handbag. Situation normal.
She never seems to carry one at the shows. Rather as the Queen never carries money. Everyone else is either lugging around their entire life in a shoulder-breaking fashionista tote (notebooks, mascara, mineral water, mobile phones etc), or sporting this season’s prestige bag in an extra-small size that indicates the limo waiting outside. Anna just saunters in holding a leather bound notebook.
The chauffer-driven girls are making the statement that they have all their other gear in the car – Anna probably has a hair and make up artist, a private secretary and a juice bar in hers.
Anyway, I felt quite discombobulated seeing her there in Oxford, just on the street like that, not surrounded by a milling hubbub of fashion folk. I felt strangely caught out and found myself doing a mental check of my outfit, which I decided just passed muster – they were the right trainers – although strictly speaking the Greek fisherman’s cap was very Celine three seasons ago.
I also felt strangely excited. As though we had come round the corner smack into Jennifer Anniston, or Gwynneth Paltrow, or some other real superceleb. Anna is just as world famous to a silly fashion head like me. But seeing her there seemed so extraordinary I wanted to rush up and ask for her autograph, or her blessing, or a job ha ha ha.
But mostly I wanted to trail her for the rest of the day to find out what she was doing there. There were certainly no fashion shows in the vicinity. She was just walking along with a tall distinguished-looking man, who may or may not have been her ex-husband, the psychologist. He was wearing a tweed jacket and certainly looked very much the handsome academic.
If it was him, maybe they are considering sending one of the their children to study there and were checking out the colleges. It certainly looked like a private visit. Had it been anything to do with work, there is no way it would just have been her and one chap. She would have been surrounded by a coven of skeletal fawning harpies in black clothes and talon heels.
And that was what was so weird for me about the Oxford visitation. Miss Wintour stood out so boldly in the context of ‘real life’, it made me realise just how insane the microcosm of the fashion show season really is.
Because through that looking glass she looks quite normal.
Just to remind you that I won’t be filing a column this Saturday, as it’s Christmas day and you’ll all be too busy opening presents (and perhaps the odd bottle…) to read it.
So let me take this chance to wish you all a very very happy Christmas and to thank you all for making my new venture into the blogosphere such fun.
You totally rock.