Anna Wintour Gets Personal With The Selby
Anna Wintour has been editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine since 1988. A cultural icon and aesthetic expert, Anna is credited with forging and shaping America’s relationship with fashion into the new millenium. Artist The Selby directed and illustrated the hit social series Go Ask Anna in his latest collaboration with Vogue and Anna Wintour herself.
“People on the street ask questions, and then Anna answers them,” The Selby explained. “I do an interview where I’ll ask follow up questions and have a conversation with her. Then I do some watercolor drawings that go along with the video; it adds that bit of fun and funk and it helps illustrate what she’s saying.” The entire process is a collaboration, with The Selby at its core as director. The questions come from curious fashion lovers around the country. Vogue gathered some questions straight from the streets of New York, and The Selby was able to collect some unanswered thoughts in both Texas and LA.
It wasn’t the first time The Selby managed a project that included taking his interviews to the streets. “When we approach people that know who Anna is, they start freaking out. It’s like going up to a Catholic and saying ‘We’re going to show this to the Pope,’” Selby said. “Tourists might not know Anna or might be suspicious of me. They ask me for a business card; it’s an interesting thing. When I started my career, I used to work a lot for NY Mag. I did a lot of “hundred person polls” where I would grab people on the street and interview them. I like that random element of grabbing people and talking to them, but it’s gotten much harder now. Everyone’s on their phone, and you’re distracting them. I remember when the iPod came out with the earpods. It changed everything.”
Once all of the in-camera elements were shot and complete, Selby found space for his sketches to playfully illustrate Anna’s thoughts. “Once we lock the final edit, I think about a moment where it would be fun to show something happening. I’m trying to use myself as the audience, doing things I like that could be interesting. Anna only told me to take out one drawing, out of hundreds of hundreds of items. I got the AWOK. This thing with Anna is called ‘AWOK.’ It means the ‘Anna Wintour OK.’ There’s this whole thing at Vogue, you don’t have anything if you don’t have AWOK. It’s a huge deal in the world of fashion,” Selby explains. “That’s why all the stuff is like floating around her head. I think it's a representation of Anna’s world and what she does. That’s something I always do with my work. I try to document and represent someone’s world by also adding my own creativity to it.”
In this project with Anna, The Selby has the unique opportunity to pull back the curtain and giving the world a few moments to see into her brain and thought process. “I think it’s really fascinating to see how her mind works. She’s like this wizard of fashion so just seeing her process and listening to how she’s seeing these different things, I’ve learned a lot. Anna has this incredible knowledge of fashion and all sorts of things around fashion, and I think what’s really interesting is that she only looks forward, you know, which I found the same thing with Karl Lagerfeld. They are always looking forward, that is the thing, and I found that really compelling. It’s a mark of powerful people, visionaries look forward, they know the history, but they're looking at the future.”