The Princess Wintour: Regal Anna’s delightful daughter, fashion regent to Condé Nast’s Queen, contributing editor at Teen Vogue
Anna Wintour, the queen of the New York City fashion hive, named her daughter Bee-and thus far, the buzz around the Teen Vogue contributing editor and unofficial muse, 16, is almost uniformly positive. Few were willing to discuss the offspring of the most powerful woman in the haute -rag trade on the record, but some words bandied about included “delightful,” “well-adjusted,” “well-mannered,” “good breeding” and “natural intelligence.”
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” said über -publicist Paul Wilmot, a family friend who’s known Bee and brother Charlie, 18, since they were small. “But she’s got the DNA and, by osmosis, she’s got the exposure and experience.”
Maybe it’s because Mom is a strong career woman, and because Dad-Ms. Wintour’s ex-husband Dr. David Shaffer-is a shrink, but the kid seems to be turning out all right. “She’s very poised and elegant, and carries herself very well,” said a fashion journalist huddled under the cozy cloak of anonymity. “She’s regal.” Apparently the icy demeanor so feared in the Condé Nast elevators melts behind the doors of the family’s Sullivan Street townhouse. “People who know Anna-even those who say she can be cold in business dealings-remark that she’s a surprisingly good mother who is very warm with the kids,” another industry observer said. “The father is great, too. They have two very good parents and they don’t seem overspoiled.”
Just call her the anti-Hilton sister: You’re not going to find young Ms. Shaffer cavorting unchaperoned on tabletops at Bungalow 8 or marching down some random designer’s runway in slut couture. “Anna is very much about having her children with her when it’s appropriate,” Mr. Wilmot said. “Bee will go to a show occasionally or make an appearance at a cocktail party with her mother, but everything is very normal.”
Ms. Shaffer attended her first fashion show at age 2, and these days can often be spotted in the front row beside maman (and in front of Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley), clad in an age-appropriate jeans-and-T-shirt ensemble, perhaps, or a red polka-dotted dress revealing discreet décolletage, her dark, shiny hair long and parted in the middle or swept back in a smooth ponytail. “Very sleek,” said the fashion journalist. “She’s very appropriate and stylish. She doesn’t dress like Britney Spears; she dresses like an elegant 16-year-old.”
Model- cum -artist Ahn Duong painted the comely Ms. Shaffer’s portrait and it hung for a time in the Dolce and Gabbana boutique on Madison Avenue. Ms. Shaffer “has these perfect dreamy eyes,” Ms. Duong said. “It’s a very powerful stare but also very removed and aloof. It’s a face that draws you towards her and at the same time keeps you at a distance.” She also said the young woman is “very much into sports.”
When Teen Vogue launched last spring, there were the inevitable snickers and raised eyebrows about Bee’s masthead placement, but they evaporated pretty quickly. “Good old-fashioned nepotism-nothing like it! And why not? Murdoch did it!” Mr. Wilmot said. “When it comes down to it, all these young people will have to stand on their own, and my money’s on Bee Shaffer. She’s Anna and Amy’s secret weapon.” Ms. Astley passed up the chance to comment on Ms. Shaffer’s job performance this time around, but told The Observer last February: “I really love what Bee has to say.” To Seventh on Sixth’s newsletter, The Daily , she portrayed Ms. Shaffer as a humble worker Bee: “Working in [the] closet, packing clothes, unpacking-she’ll even fetch coffee if someone needs it.”
Ms. Wintour likewise refused to comment on her daughter or provide her for an interview-which, frankly, lends Ms. Shaffer a certain distinction in a city full of celebrity offspring angling for the cameras. “Maybe someone would be hoping for an incendiary, but that’s just not Bee,” the fashion journalist said. “Bee’s totally squeaky-clean,” said another industry observer. “She’s not tacky. She’s not like these Ally Hilfiger girls … she’s just not like them.”
“Where she goes from here-who knows?” Mr. Wilmot said. “Don’t be surprised if she ends up in journalism school, and don’t be surprised if she ends up a young editor somewhere.”
Until then, let Bee be.
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