This week was a big one in print-fashion as it was announced on Monday, 10 April 2017, that Edward Enninful would be the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue. His appointment, a year after British Vogue celebrated its centenary year, means that he will be replacing British Vogue’s longstanding editor Alexandra Shulman. Enninful’s appointment is even more significant considering that he is the first black male editor of any Vogue publication. So who is this man who is to become one of fashion’s most powerful figures?
Edward Enninful is a Ghanaian-born British fashion and style director whose work has been described (by Conde Nast’s International Chief Executive Jonathan Newman) as having reached “landmark status in recent cultural history”. As contributing editor at Italian Vogue, he oversaw the publication’s “all-black” issue in 2008 which sold out in the US and UK in 72 hours. Eventually, an extra 40,000 copies of the issue was printed and distributed by Conde Nast. The issue was regarded as a cultural watershed in an industry that exclusively values Euro-centric beauty standards. Besides Italian Vogue, Enninful has served as fashion and style director at W magazine where he has championed the diversity of models and celebrities. Among his favourite subjects are Academy Award-nominated Irish/Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, and Jourdan Dunn. Campbell is a close friend who accompanied Enninful when he received his Order of the British Empire (OBE) last year.
Enninful is tirelessly champions increasing diversity within fashion. Having worked in fashion since the 1980s, he has spoken of how changing the industry requires having people of all ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry. According to him, substantive change can only come from actors working within the industry. Enninful is in a good position to effect significant change within fashion as his three decade-long career has left him enviously well-connected. He regularly works with Steven Meisel- incidentally one of the most in-demand photographers in fashion. Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss hosted a party to celebrate his receiving an OBE for his services to fashion and diversity. He is close friends with Marc Jacobs, the former creative director of Louis Vuitton. Being that well-connected will, no doubt, increase British Vogue’s profile internationally.
At 44, Enninful is relatively young. This means that as editor of British Vogue, a younger perspective will be introduced. His strength lies in creating strong images which aim to “talk about the times we live in”. It is unclear as to whether Enninful will continue to style editorial shoots, but his strong social media presence (with 483,000 Instagram followers) means that there will be a blending of the digital and print sides of British Vogue. Seeing off competition from other candidates such as Vogue deputy editor Emily Sheffield and the Financial Times’ Jo Ellison, he represents Conde Nast’s ambition to drive British Vogue in a new direction. Enninful undoubtedly uses fashion to provide social commentary, as evidenced by his “I am an immigrant” video (featuring 81 leading fashion figures) which was compiled in response to Donald Trump’s attempted Muslim Ban. His talent as an artistic director, notwithstanding, Enninful’s appointment signals a new future for British Vogue which is definitely something worth celebrating.