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Sep 10, 2014
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Fashion priestess Anna Wintour gets NY Fashion Week send-up

By
AFP
Published
Sep 10, 2014

NEW YORK, United States - It's Fashion Week, and Anna Wintour is front row at all the best shows, immaculate in her trademark bob and oversized shades. But come midnight, she's center stage in a dimly-lit nightclub.

Or at least her hair, sunglasses and wicked tongue are on display, deftly deployed by camped-up comedy singer Ryan Raftery, in a musical satire that rips apart the back-biting fashion industry and satirizes its high priestess.


Wintour - the English editor-in-chief of Vogue who has sat atop a $300 billion industry for 26 years - is famous for her impeccable style and infamous for her steely persona.

Her world, which revolves around a clutch of the world's most glamorous women, now is the subject of a Manhattan tour de farce.

The show, "Ryan Raftery is the Most Powerful Woman in Fashion," centers on her controversial decision to put reality star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West on the cover of Vogue in April - a decision that outraged fashion purists.

Dressed in a blonde bobbed wig, shades, jacket and sequined top, Raftery's Wintour pours scorn on lesser mortals and cracks "in" jokes for the fashion set, delivered in pop songs with rewritten lyrics.

The send-up, currently enjoying a four-night run at New York's Public Theater, features a song about shopping, "Skymall," to the tune of Adele's "Skyfall."

Raftery shimmies through another song confessing to an alleged extra-marital affair with Texan millionaire Shelby Bryan.

There's also a running joke about constipation, gags about celebrated designer Michael Kors and Hillary Clinton, and loads of Kardashian insults.

Raftery sees Wintour as part Clinton, part Star Wars arch-villain.

"She has the look of a Darth Vader in that she has this helmet type hair and she always looks exactly the same.

"Then she is as shrewd as Hillary."

He has only seen her once, at a busy intersection in New York, where she stood next to him, coffee in hand, arms folded, sunglasses, hair perfect.

Darth Vader and a grimace

"I said 'good morning, Anna' and she kind of grimaced and kept on walking, and that's exactly what you want to happen when you meet her," Raftery said.

"You want her to be like 'The Devil Wears Prada'," he said, in reference to the hit movie which channeled Wintour in recreating the archetype of a ruthless, imperious fashion magazine editor.

The show is incredibly camp, but Raftery also explores the softer side of the woman who inspired the Hollywood film.

"More than anything else I want people to realize there's a real person. She's not Darth Vader, even though she may look like Darth Vader."

The show ends with a monologue about how hard it is to be Wintour, always having to look perfect, with the quip "right now I have 26 products in my hair."

Although he seems to revel in taking aim at the fashion legend, Raftery is nothing if not a fan of Wintour.

"I think people think of her as an iconic New Yorker, the same thing as the Statue of Liberty or as the Chrysler Building."

He confesses to sending the tennis-mad style queen tulips for Fashion Week and the US Open, before her favorite Roger Federer crashed out in the semis.

Wintour's daughter Bee Shaffer turned up on the opening night, stopped by his dressing room for a picture, and said how much she enjoyed the show.

Turns out her mother sent her.

"It makes perfect sense to me. Anna is not going to have someone open a show about her in her hometown at a reputable venue and not know about it!" said Raftery.

Shaffer posted a backstage picture with the comedian-singer to her Instagram, with the caption "my surrogate mother?"

"Her daughter could not have been nicer," he said.

"Afterwards, she told me that she told her mum the show was a smash, and now I feel that Anna has kind of blessed the show."

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