New editor restyles British Vogue

Model Naomi Campbell with Mr Edward Enninful after he received his Order of the British Empire in October last year.
Model Naomi Campbell with Mr Edward Enninful after he received his Order of the British Empire in October last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Edward Enninful, who took over on Tuesday, launched a new Snapchat edition to make the magazine more relevant

LONDON • The job of keeping British Vogue in vogue with readers and advertisers has started for Mr Edward Enninful.

He took over as editor on Tuesday, launching a new Snapchat edition as he seeks to reinvigorate the fashion publication that one ex-staff member warned was losing its relevance.

The 45-year-old former model and stylist is the 101-year-old magazine's first male and first black editor. He is known for his political activism, provocative shoots and A-list friends.

He has lost no time in bringing in a new team, including close pal, model Naomi Campbell, and award-winning film-maker and artist Steve McQueen.

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"British Vogue is a great magazine with a legacy of creativity and innovation," he said. "I look forward to continuing to produce an exciting and beautiful magazine for its readers."

On his first official day in the job, the magazine debuted on Snapchat's Discover platform, promising editions thrice a week as it seeks to woo new audiences.

Many more changes are expected from the new boss, who cuts a sharply different figure from predecessor Alexandra Shulman, who edited Vogue for 25 years.

While she largely avoided the spotlight, Mr Enninful regularly posts updates on social media of his celebrity lifestyle. His dog Ru, a Boston terrier named after drag artist RuPaul, has more than 11,000 followers on Instagram.

Mr Jonathan Newhouse, head of Vogue publisher Conde Nast International, described Mr Enninful as influential in the "communities of fashion, Hollywood and music which shape the cultural zeitgeist".

Several senior staff members have left Vogue since his appointment was announced in April.

One newspaper dubbed it a "Posh Girl exodus" that looks set to change the largely white, middle- class and female face of the magazine.

But one of those who was fired, fashion director Lucinda Chambers, has acknowledged the need for change - admitting she had not read the magazine for years.

Saying the clothes featured were "irrelevant for most people - so ridiculously expensive", she also warned it had lost its authority.

"In fashion, we are always trying to make people buy something they don't need," she told industry publication Vestoj.com.

Born in Ghana and brought up in west London with five siblings, Mr Enninful was scouted as a model at 16 and began his career as a stylist.

He became the youngest fashion director in the industry when he joined i-D, a British youth culture magazine, at 18.

He later worked at Vogue US and as contributing editor at Vogue Italia, before moving to W magazine as creative and fashion director in New York in 2011.

He has long pushed for greater diversity in fashion, creating an All Black issue for Vogue Italia in 2008.

He has styled next year's Pirelli calendar featuring only black stars, including actress Lupita Nyong'o and rapper-turned-businessman Diddy.

He also helped orchestrate a short film in protest against United States President Donald Trump's travel ban, starring 81 fashion figures.

He received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to fashion last year - after which Campbell and fellow supermodel Kate Moss threw him a huge party.

"In his attitude towards celebrity and social media, Enninful is something of a bridge between the traditional fashion establishment and the next generation," the Business Of Fashion website wrote in an editorial earlier this year.

But it added: "Enninful's core skill, however, is in creating powerful and memorable imagery, which will put him in good stead to revitalise the Vogue brand for a new generation of readers - and followers."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'New editor restyles British Vogue'. Print Edition | Subscribe