The fashion world may still be in shock after Morley Safer asserted in his profile of Anna Wintour that John Galliano needs a new tailor and Karl Lagerfeld is like Count Dracula. Though we might not agree with Morley's remarks, we appreciated his outsider's perspective, which is probably how most 60 Minutes viewers out there in Normal Land in the middle states view the High Order of this industry. But that's not where Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn's complaints of the piece end. She writes that the story made "no attempt to break news or even advance the news," and that what aired on Sunday would have been best suited to air right after the Devil Wears Prada came out.
No one would bother disputing the assertion that Wintour is the most powerful person in fashion, and that she exerts her power in a variety of directions, beyond editorial decisions. But what’s the impact of all that power? And, more, what’s the downside? It’s also surprising that CBS didn’t put up a countering view of Wintour’s influence. Grace Coddington and Andre Leon Talley were candid about their boss, saying that she can be intimidating and so forth. But the segment needed outside opinions.
Oh, critics and their negativity. The piece offered a glimpse of a woman who has succeeded in maintaining the mystery behind her day-to-day life as the all-important ruler of Fashion Fantasy Land. Now audiences have a better idea of what she does and how she operates, and just because she wouldn't allow the cameras into her offices right after the Devil Wears Prada came out doesn't make the footage less interesting now.
And as for the downside of her authority, sure, one must exist. But that's a whole other twelve minutes. What if the piece was about the dream? The dream that so many women working at magazines today have — that being the all-powerful queen of fashion is nothing but being fabulous, getting what you want left and right, and being the only person who is truly cool enough to wear sunglasses indoors unnecessarily? The 60 Minutes piece fledged out the fantasies of so many, and if that's all it did, we're happy to take what we can get. Even viewers who don't want to be Anna Wintour must have found her lines in the outtakes about fur and, uh, houses in Minnesota to be pretty amazing. Those alone made Morley's reporting pretty special.