In Kanye West’s instantly notorious video for “Famous” this summer, the camera pans over wax figurines of a dozen nude celebrities sleeping in an enormous rumpled bed together. West placed himself in the center of the tableau, dozing between his wife, Kim Kardashian, and frenemy Taylor Swift. A few bodies down, Donald Trump lies facing Vogue editor Anna Wintour, their arms gently touching.
On Tuesday, West, Wintour, and Trump found themselves at Trump Tower in presumably more formal circumstances. West reported that he and the president-elect talked about “bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago.” Meanwhile, reports of a more mysterious meeting between Trump and Wintour started cropping online Tuesday afternoon. Slate has confirmed that the meeting took place.
It’s not clear what the editor and the politician discussed, but it’s safe to guess that the confab was a little awkward at the outset. Earlier this week, a British tabloid reported that Wintour was overheard ranting about Trump on a “packed commuter train,” presumably in New York. “Trump’s foundation has done nothing,” she allegedly and correctly said. “Its board is packed with relatives, and he’s going to use his presidency to sell himself and his brand and profit personally for himself and his family.” Wintour has been a reliable fundraiser for Democratic causes, and the magazine’s website remains a solid source of Trump opposition. In October, Vogue made its first political endorsement in its 124-year-history, calling Clinton “optimistic, forward-looking, and modern.”
In retrospect, however, maybe the fact that the magazine’s endorsement barely mentioned Trump was not a reflection of feminism, but tact toward Wintour’s old pal. As wealthy, famous Manhattanites, Trump and Wintour have naturally shown up at some of the same parties over the years; the editor even attended Trump’s third wedding in 2005, the same year Melania appeared on the magazine’s cover in a Christian Dior wedding dress. But their relationship goes a bit deeper than that. Ivanka Trump told Good Morning America in 2009 that Wintour once offered her a job at the magazine. She turned it down, but said her father pressured her so intensely to take that job that it was “a bit disconcerting.” When the editor was rumored to be up for some sort of ambassadorship within the Obama administration a few years later, Trump enthusiastically endorsed the idea Fox & Friends. “She would run it so well and she would do things no one else could do in that position,” he said. “She’s very competent. She has done an amazing job at Vogue for a long time.” He reiterated his support on Twitter:
Some in the fashion world made an ostentatious show of refusing to work with the Trump family during the election. When Melania wore a white Ralph Lauren jumpsuit on election night, for example, the brand made a point of saying that she had bought it off the rack, rather then working with the company to create the look. (Quelle horreur!) But those relationships may be thawing in the wake of Trump’s victory. Dressing the first lady is good for business, and four years is a long time to abstain. Fashion is an industry, and no one looks to industry for moral clarity.
This week, Wintour swiftly apologized for her impolitic subway rant, saying “I hope that President-elect Trump will be a successful president for us all.” Soon afterward, she showed up at Trump Tower for the sit-down with the future president. For now, it’s a mystery what they discussed: Trade policy? An ambassadorship? Another Vogue cover for Melania? Democratic politics may be fashionable, but power never goes out of style.