Known as the ‘Ice Queen’ of Vogue, Anna Wintour has managed to revolutionize the magazine at the time she was elected to become editor in November 1988. Now, recalling those times while preparing for the launch of the book Vogue The Covers, the esteemed editor-in-chief Anna Wintour tells CBS that she “didn’t know anything” when she stared working as editor for Vogue.

The first edition of Vogue US appeared on December 17, 1892 and since then the magazine has earned the title of ‘fashion’s bible’. After years in which the magazine seemed to follow a predictable path as far as the cover went, Anna Wintour took over and decided to leave her mark over the publication.

Vogue November 1902Vogue November 1988/ Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour might admit she didn’t know anything, but it seems that her strategy of going with her instincts worked perfectly as she simply revolutionized the magazine by opting to put a non-cover photograph of an Israeli model wearing an embellished top and jeans on the cover of Vogue, instead of the traditional face shots of all glam models. Anna told CBS in an exclusive interview that:

“To be in Vogue has to mean something. It’s an endorsement, it’s a validation. [the cover] was totally unplanned and I just said, ‘Well, let’s just try this’. And off we went. It was just very natural. To me it just said: ‘This is something new. This is something different’. And I remember the printers called us up because they thought we’d made a mistake – just wanting to check that that actually was the cover!”

Although her move was a statement and something new that captured the attention of the public, the fashion editor wasn’t all that sure about what she was doing at that time. The inspiration behind ‘The Devil Wear Prada’, Anna Wintour reveals to CBS that she didn’t know it will work. She said:

“I didn’t know anything. I never pay any attention. I’m sure it’s not such a good way to be, but I don’t really follow market research. And in the end I do respond to my own instincts. Sometimes they’re successful, and obviously sometimes they’re not. But you have to, I think, remain true to what you believe in.”

Vogue November 1939Vogue July 1961Vogue April 1992Vogue March 2011

Anna Wintour also continued to pass boundaries by swapping supermodel covers with celebrity cover shots and it seems that the decision worked perfectly, since Anna has been holding on to her job for 23 years. The editor-in-chief tells CBS that she faced plenty of criticism for this decision and that she remembers when she decided to put Madonna on the cover. Anna said: “I remember getting quite a bit of criticism for my first Madonna cover – you know: ‘She’s not in vogue, she’ll never sell’. It was a little bit risky, but that when sales shot up around 40 per cent it was an ‘eye-opener to all of us’.”

Now Vogue is preparing to celebrate 120 years of presence in the fashion industry with a new book which features “an illustrated history of the most memorable covers” . The book ‘Vogue The Covers’ will retails for $50 and is out for sale. Vogue also created a digital archive that can be browsed through to find editorials and photographs that were featured from the first 1892 issue to the last issue of Vogue. Now for $1,575 a year, you can subscribe to individual access to the Vogue Archives and see every page and cover from Vogue through its 120 years journey.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images,