To understand what's happened to Anna Wintour and to the fashion industry as a whole, it helps to look at two photographs. The first is a 1955 Richard Avedon shot of the model Dovima, dressed in a black Dior gown with flowing white sash, stretching her white arms toward two enormous pachyderms that flank her like bodyguards. "Dovima with Elephants," as the photograph is known, may be fashion's most iconic single image—perfectly posed and concerned with absolutely nothing but itself. A print sold for $1,153,011 at Christie's last November—a record for an Avedon.
Wintour turns that iconography inside out in Vogue's April issue. Amidst the magazine's lissome models is a photo spread featuring Amar'e Stoudemire, the 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound basketball forward, in his New York Knicks uniform. An elephant among Dovimas.
Stoudemire isn't the first pick in Wintour's basketball draft—she put LeBron James on the cover a few years back—but she's been courting him for a while now. In September...