US ambassador Anna? Vogue’s editor-in-chief Wintour ‘to get British embassy as thank you from Obama’
PUBLISHED: 23:52 EST, 3 December 2012 | UPDATED: 18:29 EST, 4 December 2012
Anna Wintour is being tipped to become the next US ambassador to Britain.
The UK-born editor of US Vogue was one of Barack Obama’s most high profile fundraisers and is in line to top a shortlist being drawn up for him.
A decision is expected within weeks about who will replace the outgoing ambassador Louis Susman.
Miss Wintour donated tens of thousands of dollars to the US President’s election campaign and helped raised another $500,000.
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The 63-year-old hosted fundraising dinners at the homes of Sex And The City star Sarah Jessica Parker and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
She also brought together leading designers to create accessories emblazoned with Mr Obama’s image.
Her main competition for the job comes from Matthew Barzun, finance chairman of the President’s re-election campaign.
A Democrat source in Washington said: ‘A large number of Obama’s ambassadors have been fundraisers. Both these two fit the bill.
Supporter: Wintour, right at a state dinner hosted by Obama and his wife Michelle in January, has thrown fundraisers for the president and worked with designers to create accessories with his image
THE POLITICS OF FASHION: ANNA’S RESOLVE TO RISE TO THE TOP
Wintour was born in London on November 3, 1949, the eldest daughter of Charles Wintour – editor of the London Evening Standard.
As a teen, she worked at boutiques and gained experience at a series of magazines before moving to New York. She became junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in 1975 and she secured a role at Vogue in 1983 as the magazine’s first creative director.
After stints at British Vogue and House & Garden, she eventually took over as editor of Vogue in 1988 and changed the direction of the magazine, elevating photographers and covering harder news pieces.
Amid rumours she would be replaced, Wintour said in 2009 that she would not retire. That year, she also appeared in a film about the magazine, The September Issue.
She is known for her withering put-downs in her fashion empire and has even been given the unflattering nickname Nuclear Wintour.
She has two children with child psychiatrist David Shaffer, who she married in 1984 and divorced in 1999. She started dating Shelby Bryan and the pair are still together.
‘Anna Wintour is just the kind of figure who could be an effective ambassador.
‘You’re a messenger boy or girl for the President to the host government and to the business and political worlds, but you’re also supposed to be able to throw a party.
‘She’s obviously got fantastic connections in London and that would be an advantage. She’s the definition of a glamour pick. I can see it happening.’
Ambassadorships to friendly countries are commonly given to top-tier fundraisers as a thank you gift after a tough campaign, and the post in London is one of the nicest among them.
An article by Bloomberg cites two people, described only as being ‘familiar with the matter’, as saying Susman is one of three ambassadors with plum positions who will not be continuing abroad.
Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who is currently the ambassador to Ireland, and Charles Rivkin, the former executive of Jim Henson Co. who is the ambassador to France, will also be returning to the U.S.
The fact that she is a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K. also helps Wintour’s cause, but Bloomberg asserts that she may have competition for the gig.
Matthew Barzun, who served as finance chairman for the re-election campaign, is said to be interested in the job.
Leaving: Louis Susman (left) is currently the American ambassador to Britain, and Charles Rivkin (right) is the ambassador to France though they are both thought to be heading back to the U.S. next year
Competition: Matthew Barzun (left), who served as finance chairman for the re-election campaign, is eying the British ambassadorship, and Marc Lasry (right), a major bundler, reportedly wants the one in France
Miss Wintour is known for her withering put-downs in her fashion empire and has even been given the unflattering nickname Nuclear Wintour.
The daughter of one-time Evening Standard editor Charles Wintour, she was born in London but has relinquished her British citizenship.
Wintour has hosted a number of fundraisers for the President in the past few months, all of which have shown the strength of her Rolodex.
In May, she co-hosted a $40,000-per-plate dinner for 50 people in actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manhattan townhouse. Prior to the dinner, she even appeared in a YouTube video promoting the dinner which offered up two raffled tickets to the event.
In August, she moved her sights out of the city and partnered up with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his fashion designer wife Georgina Chapman to host a $38,500-per-plate dinner in their Connecticut home.
She used more than just her contacts to make the money flow in for the President during the long campaign.
Wintour used her fashion and business savvy to draw up a spreadsheet and prove to the President’s aides that the creation of a high-end accessories line would bring in a sizable amount of cash for the campaign.
From there, she enlisted a host of designer friends to create the goods.
Derek Lam designed a $75 tote bag, Thakoon Panichgul made a $95 scarf with Obama’s face pictured, and Richard Blanch was behind the makeup bag that contained red, white and blue nail polish.
Considering her prominent position on the donor list and the cycle of turning donors into ambassadors, it comes as little surprise that Wintour’s name has been floated as a possibility.
AN ENGLISHWOMAN IN AMERICA: IS WINTOUR THE NEW PAMELA HARRIMAN?
With her English upbringing, expensive taste and cosy relationships with Democrats, Anna Wintour strikes similarities with a former ambassador for the U.S., Pamela Harriman.
The powerful socialite, who is also known as Winston Churchill’s daughter-in-law, was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to France by President Clinton in 1993, when she was 73 years old.
After a charmed childhood in the southwest of England, Harriman studied in Germany and Paris, before working at the Foreign Office in London as a translator. There, she was introduced to Randolph Churchill, the prime minister’s son, and he proposed to her in 1939 – on the first night they met.
After having a child, they eventually divorced and she moved to Paris. And after meeting Broadway producer Leland Hayward in 1959, she moved to New York, and they married in 1960. She enjoyed a lavish lifestyle from his successful musicals, including the Sound of Music.
After his death in 1971, she married a former flame, Averell Harriman, moved to Washington D.C. and became a U.S. citizen.
She became involved with the Democratic Party and helped create fundraising systems, throwing desirable parties – which she oversaw with an exacting eye – attended by the city’s most famous faces, much like the events previously thrown by Wintour for Obama.
After her husband died, leaving her with $75 million, Harriman’s presence among political soirees grew and she was known to charge as much as $1,000 for a ticket to her parties, with proceeds going to the Democrats.
She was appointed at U.S. Ambassador to France by President Clinton in 1993.
In a sign of their close friendship, when she passed away aged 76 in 1997, Clinton dispatched Air Force One to bring her body from France to the U.S. and even spoke at her funeral in D.C.
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