British Vogue: what we can expect from Edward Enninful as editor

From an ‘all-black’ issue for Italian Vogue to his experience as a stylist – the appointment of Vogue’s first male editor marks a huge shift in the fashion industry

Edward Enninful’s appointment as the new editor of British Vogue marks a huge shift in fashion – a black man at the helm of the most established fashion magazine in Britain is exciting, but not just because of Enninful’s race and gender. The stylist has a history of making beautiful, timely – and sometimes controversial – images. He has a reputation as someone who shakes up mainstream fashion titles, and makes them chime with the interests of younger readers. Condé Nast International chief executive Jonathan Newhouse rightly describes Enninful’s work at Italian Vogue as attaining “landmark status in recent cultural history”.

Early years

Born on 22 February 1972 in Ghana, Enninful moved to the UK with his parents and five siblings as a young child, setting up home in Ladbroke Grove, west London. Aged 16, he was scouted by stylist Simon Foxton, who introduced him to the world of fashion as a model.


While modelling, Enninful caught the eye of Trish and Terry Jones, the founders of i-D magazine, and assisted on fashion shoots at the publication. At 18, while studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, he was appointed fashion director at i-D, launching him into the fashion stratosphere. As the youngest fashion director for a publication, he developed his reputation for producing groundbreaking shoots which captured the energy of the 90s' creative playground. During this period he formed firm friendships with many of his lifelong collaborators, including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. He stayed with i-D for two decades before moving to Condé Nast’s W magazine as style director in 2011.

Greatest hits

As a stylist, Enninful has worked on countless campaigns for high-fashion houses, including Lanvin, Carolina Herrera and Tiffany & Co, and has held contributing editor positions on the American and Italian editions of Vogue. At the latter, he worked with its late editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani to produce the top-selling 2008 Black Issue, which featured only black celebrities and models.

British Vogue

On 10 April 2017, Condé Nast announced Enninful would succeed Alexandra Shulman as editor-in-chief of British Vogue, making him the first man to edit the UK edition. A strong advocate of diversity in the industry, Enninful has spoken of his desire to promote greater racial inclusivity in Vogue. Given his A-list contacts book and background as a stylist, many have speculated he will produce a more visually led publication with a heavy celebrity presence. 

What others say

'By virtue of his talent and experience, Edward is supremely prepared to assume the responsibility of British Vogue,' his new boss, chief executive Jonathan Newhouse, said, adding that he is 'an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music, which shape the cultural zeitgeist'.

In his own words

'I grew up reading British Vogue – I am so honoured and humbled to be taking up the mantle of editor,' he said in an interview with the publication, revealing that he was 'most excited to tell my father about my appointment'.

Ghanian-born Enninful will undoubtably bring more diversity to Vogue. As contributing fashion editor at Italian Vogue, he oversaw the magazine’s “all-black” issue in 2008, which became a bestselling number (Condé Nast printed an extra 40,000 copies). As fashion and style director at W he worked with known A-listers (Cara Delevingne and Emma Watson), but also championed diversity of models and celebrities. Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, Ruth Negga and Jourdan Dunn were favourite subjects.

Edward Enninful
Edward Enninful: ‘We need people of different ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry.’ Photograph: Mert & Marcus/PA

Enninful has been vocal about the need to make change from the inside in this largely white industry. “If you put one model in a show or in an ad campaign, that doesn’t solve the problem,” he said at a talk last year. “We need teachers in universities, we need internships, we need people of different ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry. That really is the solution; you have to change it from the inside.” Arguably his appointment is a sign that this is beginning to happen. British Vogue has previously been called out for its lack of diversity in model casting. In 2015, Dunn became the first black model to be the solo star on the cover since Campbell in 2002.

As someone who has worked in fashion since the late 80s and has been in New York for six years, Enninful is fabulously connected. He regularly works with Steven Meisel, one of the most in-demand photographers in fashion. Campbell and Rihanna aren’t just models in his shoots – they are cheerleaders and friends. Campbell accompanied Enninful to Buckingham Palace last year to receive his OBE. To celebrate, she and Kate Moss hosted a party, which was attended by Madonna. His last Instagram post was a birthday tribute to Marc Jacobs, with a picture of the two of them arm-in-arm. Having these household names on speed dial will no doubt mean British Vogue’s profile will rise internationally.

Enninful receiving his OBE with Naomi Campbell
Enninful receiving his OBE at Buckingham Palace last year – accompanied by close friend Naomi Campbell. Photograph: Reuters

What will the pages of Enninful’s Vogue look like? Knock-out shoots are a sure thing – though it’s unclear if he will continue to style them. Enninful is 44 and a younger point of view might well be introduced. He has always wanted to “talk about the times we live in”. In line with that, Enninful – who has 483,000 followers on Instagram – has said how much he loves social media and has been quick to work with so-called Insta-girls such as Gigi and Bella Hadid. Perhaps a melding of the digital and print sides of Vogue may be encouraged. More diverse cover stars are surely a given.

If current Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman came from a features background – the daughter of a theatre critic for the Evening Standard, who worked at the Sunday Telegraph and GQ before joining Vogue in 1992 – Enninful’s strength is certainly images, which perhaps signals that there will be a priority shift at Vogue. He saw off other candidates – Vogue’s deputy editor Emily Sheffield and the Financial Times’ Jo Ellison – more similar to Shulman. This suggests Condé Nast is in the mood to shake things up rather than continue in the tradition of the last 25-year-tenure. Shulman has been graceful in the handover. She posted her congratulations on Instagram, writing: “I hope you love Vogue as much as I have.”


Lauren Cochrane

The GuardianTramp

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