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Design & Style

Designers: What It Takes to Succeed

Anna Wintour

Lesson time 13:45 min

Anna has launched the careers of some of fashion’s most world-renowned designers. She talks about what makes a designer stand out to her, and she gives essential tips for surviving as a creative today.

Anna Wintour
Teaches Creativity and Leadership
Anna Wintour gives unprecedented access to her world, teaching you how to lead with vision and creativity—and without apology.


[MUSIC PLAYING] ANNA WINTOUR: Switching gears a bit, I now want to offer some advice directly to the young designers watching this class. I've been lucky enough to know, work with, and support the careers of many of the most exciting designers of our generation. Let me tell you a little bit about how you can stand out and how you can succeed as a designer. [MUSIC PLAYING, TYPEWRITER CLACKING] When I talk to students who come up to see us here at Vogue, or I go and talk to them at colleges, I always talk to them about not playing it safe. Try something that is the most extreme, that is the most creative because when you're doing that, you get to the true heart of who you are. And when you look at the risk-taking that you're making and you're looking at a garment that you maybe you have no idea what it is. It's got 100 sleeves or it's made of 16 different kinds of fabrics, you don't know if it's a coat, or an evening dress, or a pair of pants. Why not? I mean, fashion is a dream. It has to take people to a different world. So to understand all of it, you have to keep pushing the envelope. So you almost have to find out what's not right for you and what you're trying to achieve to know more who you are. [MUSIC PLAYING] One of the delights of working at Vogue is to be able to help put a spotlight on young talent, up and coming talent, and also for all of us to help support them, and teach them, and mentor them as much as we can. And I think talent, young designers can come at you from anywhere, and I think it's not just traditionally going up to look at a showroom. I mean, Alexander Wang worked as an intern at both Teen Vogue and at Vogue when he was at college. He was really one of the earliest proponents of street style as being the basis of everything he designed, and that's still true today. I was on an airplane going from Miami to New York when I received a note on a napkin from a young man who I was then able to help get an internship at Michael Kors, and he then went on to meet his partner at college and became a company called Proenza Schouler, and it's been so rewarding to see them grow from being the new kids on the block, straight out of Parsons into a globally renowned label. So I think it's really important to always be open to talent, not think that it can only come in one direction and very important to try and help people as much as you can. And what we all look for and what we will be looking for if we were looking at your portfolios, or your photography, or whatever it might be is a different kind of an eye, a strong point of view, something that doesn't look like a carbon copy of a famous designer. And that sensibility and that originality is what really moved me to help support a young designer back in London many, many years ago called John Galliano, who was obviously such a remarkable talent, but at the same time had absolutely no idea how to run a business. And we were able to help him find an in...

About the Instructor

A fashion and media icon, Anna Wintour has been driving our cultural conversation for more than 30 years. The Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Artistic Director of Condé Nast takes off her signature sunglasses and gives you unprecedented access to her world. See how Anna nurtures talent, makes bold decisions, and evolves a brand. Learn how to lead with impact from a visionary creative leader.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

very classy lady...really enjoyed Anna's presentation. Thank you.

This class was very insightful and honest. I look forward to taking action and implementing Anna's thinking and processes into my daily work and personal life.

It was great! Though I wish she would have talked a more about herself and how she got started

Now I want an interview with Anna myself! I will know what i will need to be prepared on.



this was filled with pointers.. Be bold, be different, embrace that. and elect a partner who compliments you, not replicates you. Business is business but this is a very creative business; however I wondered if many of the very extreme pieces are for the runway, but not for people who enjoy wearing stylish clothes. How does she make that transition?

Alicia G.

The most inspiring part of this lesson was the comments on the necessity of the fashion show. Especially in the era that we are living in, this is truer now than it ever has been. How can we help to shape and form the fashion / artistic / creative world in light of our current limitations? The same old methods and habits are being set aside for the new way... what ever that is. I am searching and searching for what that tipping point moment will be in the land of the new [during and post-COVID]... If you are reading this and are with me, let's talk.

Neil T.

I'm a designer in a completely different field of design, and I love how Anna's anecdotes translate beautifully beyond fashion.

Erika Von Finck

Thank you so much for the tips! I will definitely consider them for my clothing brand. I think that the replacement of a creative direction in a fashion house will depends on whether they are looking for. If they want a radical change, a new approach, a new twist to the brand, then I would agree in Gucci´s example. As Anna said: "We work in an industry that is about change, that is destined to move people forward." Now, but if you want to keep the original creative spirit for which the brand was born, then I agree with Anna, that just a replacement is not a good idea, you have to be very careful with that. I think the most important thing to consider first, is to know what do you want for the brand, what does really the brand need, and what is best for the brand.

Leslie B.

WOW! I love all her lessons but this one was powerful for me. In a previous lesson she advised how we shouldn't be guided by the overnight success some people have had and when she says that having your own company is not always the path to success, everything makes sense. The only thing you need to know is what your passion is, then turn it into a five years plan.

Sheryl B.

Great advice for having a Five year plan. I am creating that now for the next chapter of my journey.

Graham C.

We've all heard we "alwans need to be looking a head... that 5 - 10 year plan" but looking a head doesn't only apply to your career and where you want to go, but to always be looking a head for whats next in trends. Anna articulates this so well in this chapter and it's a lesson that can be applied in so many ways. looking a head for whats next always involves change and what resonated with me was when she said " go for the shock of the new" because ultimately it will have the strongest impact and longest shelflife.

meg G.

I am only fifteen years of age and I knew at the age of 10 that I wanted to study fashion marketing! My sister got me an internship at Conde Nast this summer and I am doing everything in my power to archive my goal. Anna Wintour doing this Masterclass has helped me see what she does and what made her successful. She gave me an inside view of what goes on in her mind when she does her job. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone with an interest in fashion or leadership!


I am grateful for the authenticity of the lesson. It resonates beyond fashion and can be concretely applied in other fields of work.

Mary R.

This was an excellent lesson, I am an applied anthropologist working in fashion and consumption of goods. material and virtual, and your description of the changing eras, models, values of the age was fascinating and so valuable for my work. I have been looking into the changing values of youth, as well as the "real" impact of social media today, wonderful contribution for this study. Thank you.