Reflecting on a Revolution; A Year With Edward Enninful
It’s been over a year since it was announced that Edward Enninful would replace Alexandra Shulman as Editor in Chief of British Vogue. With nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry behind him, there were high expectations for Enninful to spearhead a revolutionary year with British Vogue; and he has done just that. During his time in the industry, Enninful has worked with i-D magazine, Vogue Italia and American Vogue to name a few. This experience created a buzz surrounding Enniful and established him as a notable figure in the world of fashion. The chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, Jonathan Newhouse, described Enninful as
“an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music.”
To be headed by an editor with such an esteemed title paved the way for great things for British Vogue.
Over the last year, Enninful has made Vogue a modern platform for diversity with his choice of cover stars and the causes the magazine has promoted. In May this year, Enninful’s editor’s letter for the issue was an inspiring and important response to the climate of the fashion industry in the last year. He wrote not simply of beauty – something we all assume models to possess – but of a magical and undefinable asset that each of the nine women on the May cover held. Furthermore, he writes that ‘the fashion industry [is] finally embracing a concept that has defined [his] entire working life: diversity.’ The May cover, with models from different ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds as well as body types, encompassed what I personally had expected from Enninful’s appointment at Vogue: unity. A cover like this one speaks to its readers, and like the beauty Enninful talked of in his letter, proves that beauty is diverse. There was a sense of comfort as the unattainable and pressurising standards previously set by the industry were relieved from women young and old all around the country. Of Vogue, Enninful suggested it to ‘offer a bold vision of what the future can – and should – look like’, and from such a major influence in the world of fashion, it is empowering to read these words.
Enninful has pioneered cultural diversity on the cover of British Vogue in his first year of appointment, including his first issue last Decmember featuring Adwoa Aboah. Aboah is an inspiring woman, founder of Girl Talk and trailblazing model – she was a perfect and revolutionary choice for Enninful’s first cover for #NewVogue, which was printed in hardback edition and signed by Enninful for the lucky few that got their hands on one. Since then, the likes of Rihanna and Oprah have also taken centre stage on the cover, as well as model Naomi Campbell. It is clear to see the change Enninful has made, the steps he has taken to ensure British Vogue promotes diversity and celebrates all women. The rare Oprah interview with Decca Aitkenhead featured feminism, conversations on race and discussions around politics. It is in Enninful’s direction and instruction that Vogue has become part of the revolution of women’s fashion magazines: no longer just for looking at clothes and for materialism. It’s interviews like Oprah’s which show that fashion is open ended, not superficial and does in fact engage with issues of the upmost importance in 21st century Britain, and internationally.
By Harriet Timmins.