Wintour was born in London, the daughter of Charles Wintour, the editor of the London Evening Standard. He was a tough-minded intellectual. Anna dropped out of high school at 16.
"I wasn't academically successful. And maybe I've spent a lot of my career trying to make up for that," she told Safer.
"Your father, who I knew only slightly in England, he had a tough reputation," Safer remarked.
"Yes. 'Chilly Charlie,'" Wintour replied.
"And not unlike yours," Safer pointed out. "And his reporters were scared of him."
"Yes. But look what he created. I mean, he created a great newspaper. And I certainly did learn this from him: people respond well to someone who's sure of what they want," she said.
And Wintour is nothing but sure. That's most apparent when twice a year her majesty takes her place at the ready-to-wear fashion shows in New York, Paris and Milan where she sits in judgment of the work of the world's most eminent designers.
To an outsider, these shows are another planet, part dazzling, part Rocky Horror show. The models seem as angry as they are emaciated, wearing clothes fit for a cadaver, and shoes that make stilettos seem sensible, and a legion of camp followers, and campy followers, chasing the celebrities du jour and the people who dress them
"You come here to be inspired. You come here to see the best of the best," Wintour told Safer. "One just wants to rush back and put it in the pages of the magazine and translate it as fast as you can to the reader."
It's a planet where Wintour feels comfortably at home - where she acts as a cheerleader, powerbroker and consultant.
Asked what bores her, Wintour said, "Mediocrity. If you see a collection that is that you feel a designer has been lazy or taking inspiration from other designers, it doesn't as much bore me as anger me."
Neither Vogue, nor Anna will openly criticize designers; she just omits them from the magazine. It's death by "annanymity." It's the kind of power that makes designers like Karl Lagerfeld sing her praises.
"She is the most famous fashion journalist in the world," Lagerfeld told Safer. "She says what she thinks. That's why some people think sometimes she is a little tough. But I like tough people, and I like tough woman. She has to give a cold image to keep things going. That's not that easy, huh? It's like running a mad house, a fashion magazine."
When she drops in on a designer it is make or break time. Nicholas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga was anxious to please, when Wintour stopped by at his studio.
"Do you keep her in mind when you're working on a new collection or a new design?" Safer asked.
"There is always a moment when you question if Anna will like it or not, for sure. I think any designer who says the contrary would lie," Ghesquiere replied.
John Galliano, who designs for Dior, calls Wintour his fairy Godmother. "Oh my goodness, in all my success, I mean, without her support I certainly wouldn't be at the house of Dior today," he said.
"She has an eye. To have an eye is key," Bernard Arnault told Safer.