Absolutely Fabulous

updated 09/18/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/18/1995 01:00AM

Anna Wintour
Editor-in-Chief of VOGUE

When she took the helm of the fashion bible Vogue seven years ago, Wintour made waves by splashing a $10,000 Christian Lacroix jacket on its cover—atop a pair of $50 jeans. Sure, that's what she tells us to wear. But the British fashion doyenne would never scramble up her own wardrobe. Wintour, 45, who is married to prominent child psychiatrist David Shaffer and is the mother of two, is known for a pared-down style honed during her 1986-87 tenure as editor of British Vogue. Her preference for European couturiers (Chanel, Versace) annoys their stateside counterparts. "To American designers," says Geoffrey Beene, "it's sort of an affront." But Wintour sees no reason to shift her style with her location. Her Louise Brooks bob has been a trademark for a decade—and hardly anybody gets behind her prescription sunglasses. Says Vanity Fair contributing editor Andre Leon Talley: "She even wears them while reading indoors." Wintour's image is her own. "She never looks like a designer groupie," says Bloomingdale's fashion director Kal Ruttenstein. "She always looks like Anna."

RARELY SEEN WITHOUT SUNGLASSES
RARELY SEEN WITH JEWELRY
HOLDS HEMLINE ABOVE THE KNEE
DARES TO CONTRAST LIGHT SUITS WITH BLACK HOSIERY AND HEELS

Linda Wells
Editor-in-Chief of ALLURE

For a woman whose lifeblood is fashion, it's tantamount to scandal: "I'm not a very good shopper," confesses Wells, 37. "And I don't do it on the weekends." Instead, Allure's founding editor now calls on a personal shopper at Barney's New York to help her assemble a "very minimalistic" wardrobe—mostly skirted suits by Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi. "I don't care if people think, 'Poor Linda, she has five outfits,' " says Wells, who also shuns scarves and jewelry and never switches handbags to match her ensembles ("I use one until I wear it out, then I buy another one"). Her style of dress is "very conservative," says Allure's creative director, Polly Allen Mellen, "but she presents herself superbly with that blond mane." One thing the presentation will never include is office attire with running shoes. "I'd rather go to the podiatrist than wear sneakers with a nice suit," she says. But Wells, who is married to oil and gas banker Charles King Thompson, will always forgive the fashion sins of her 5-month-old son Charlie. "He looks immaculate," she says with amusement. "And I'm covered in spit."

SHOWS MARKED PREFERENCE FOR BASIC BLACK
ALWAYS WEARS SUITS TO WORK
CONSIDERS LONG SKIRTS DOWDY
LIVES IN MANOLO BLAHNIK HEELS

Elizabeth Tilberis
Editor-in-Chief of HARPER'S BAZAAR

Two years ago, after she revamped Bazaar, Elizabeth Tilberis, at age 46, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But the British editor managed to find virtue in adversity, championing cancer education in the pages of her magazine. She also refused to let the months of chemotherapy show their strain, shaping what was left of her hair into a Jean Seberg-style pixie and tunneling a 30-pound weight loss into a new size-8 wardrobe. Tilberis, who favored Ralph Lauren silk shirts, sweaters and trousers when she succeeded Anna Wintour as editor of British Vogue in 1987, now wears sleeker, more formal Chanel suits. She even dresses elegantly on weekends in East Hampton, N.Y., with her artist-husband, Andrew, and their two sons. "She's not a muesli-and-dungaree mother—but more a Gucci, Mizrahi mother," says Hilary Alexander, fashion editor of London's Daily Telegraph. Yet Tilberis describes herself as "a real fashion coward. I'm always six months behind." Nobody else seems to think so. "Liz's style," says designer Donna Karan, "comes from the inside out."

NEVER LOOKS INTIMIDATING
SELDOM WEARS JEWELRY
NOT AFRAID TO PAIR CHANEL WITH A PARKA
FAVORS BASIC BLACK AND WHITE

Elsa Klensch
Style Editor, CNN

If any TV show has made the arcane world of high fashion accessible to Middle America, it is CNN's weekly half hour Style with Elsa Klensch. And when the 50-something, self-professed "sportswear girl" translates top design for the masses, she does it wearing tailored jackets, pants or black crepe walking shorts (which she prefers to miniskirts). "Things that work," says Vogue editor-at-large William Norwich. "She's conservative." And very prepared. "I make a habit of never going to bed without checking the weather and knowing what I'll wear the next day," says Klensch, a native of Sydney. To punctuate her businesslike basics, she adds, "I'm a great believer in the power of accessories. I love scarves, jewelry and earrings. They're the fastest pick-me-up there is."

At the plush Manhattan apartment she shares with husband Charles Klensch, a retired ABC Saigon bureau chief, Klensch switches from her pulled-together television persona to beads, sandals and the comfort of caftans. "I don't have tiny bones, and I'll never be a size 6," she says. "But I've reached the stage where I accept myself."

INSISTS ON BANGS AND HELMET HAIRDO
LOVES CHUNKY JEWELRY
FANCIES PANTSUITS
CHOOSES SENSIBLE PUMPS

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