Vogue's editor is too jealous of her icy mystery to expose herself much in public. She gives few interviews, and shows up to fashion events shielded by a helmet of hair and dark sunglasses. That makes Wintour's appearance before the Oxford Union, a debate club which is a playground for future British politicians, all the more unusual.

The veteran magazine editor didn't say anything remarkable: career girls shouldn't just have to wear navy pantsuits; and an interest in fashion does not make one shallow, apparently. It's more the fact that she spoke at all: "she was quite nervous, always looking to her daughter for support," wrote one unauthorized blogger. So the fearsome editor, model for Meryl Streep's heartless fashion witch in The Devil Wears Prada, is human after all.

So why do it? Here's a theory: Wintour, who's originally British, never went to Oxford, indeed any other university; she began in fashion journalism after dropping out of high school at the age of 16. More than four decades later, she's the most influential person in the fashion industry, no matter what controversialists may pretend; but maybe London-born Wintour still has a small, very British chip on her shoulder. The legendary editor told the audience: "You're Oxford students, amazing." Awww.

[Photograph from The View From Here.]