British Vogue's first male editor in 100 years

Mr Edward Enninful with model Naomi Campbell after receiving an Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace last year. He will be British Vogue's editor-in-chief starting August.
Mr Edward Enninful with model Naomi Campbell after receiving an Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace last year. He will be British Vogue's editor-in-chief starting August.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Mr Edward Enninful, the creative and fashion director of the American magazine W, is set to replace Ms Alexandra Shulman as editor-in-chief of British Vogue, its parent company Conde Nast confirmed on Monday.

The first man and the first black editor to take the helm of Britain's most powerful fashion publication in its 100-year history, he will begin his new role on Aug 1.

A top stylist and acclaimed fashion director who migrated to Britain from Ghana as a child, the 45-year-old is known for his cheerful demeanour, legendary fashion covers and having an army of loyal fans in and out of the fashion business. He received an Order of the British Empire in June last year for his services to diversity in the fashion industry.

Ms Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times, tweeted: "Congratulations to @Edward-Enninful new editor of British Vogue! This is going to shake things up." Supermodel Naomi Campbell, a close friend of his, wrote on Instagram: "Today, history was made."

Conde Nast International chairman and chief executive Jonathan Newhouse called Mr Enninful "an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music, which shape the cultural zeitgeist", and added that "by virtue of his talent and experience, Edward is supremely prepared to assume the responsibility of British Vogue".

The appointment comes three months after Mr Newhouse named another man, Mr Emanuele Farneti, to the helm of Italian Vogue, following the death of Ms Franca Sozzani.

Mr Enninful was an unexpected choice. Born in Ghana, he was raised by his seamstress mother in the Ladbroke Grove area of London, alongside five siblings.

At 16, he became a model for the British magazine i-D after being scouted while travelling on the Tube, London's subway system. He has called modelling his "baptism into fashion".

By 17, he was assisting on photography shoots for the publication with stylists Simon Foxton and Beth Summers.

In 1991, at 18, he took over from Summers as i-D fashion editor, making him one of the youngest leaders of a major fashion publication. He also obtained a degree from Goldsmiths, University of London.

He was a driving force behind the "grunge" movement of the 1990s and became a contributing editor to Italian Vogue in 1998. He spearheaded the magazine's Black Issue, declaring his intention to end the "white-out that dominates catwalks and magazines". The issue was so successful that Conde Nast printed an extra 40,000 copies.

Another notable shoot depicted Linda Evangelista in Chanel, her face wrapped in bandages as if she had just had plastic surgery.

Although there are a handful of notable exceptions, the fashion industry has a dearth of black power players and that had been a source of immense frustration for Mr Enninful, who has made a considerable effort to improve things. He has made headlines with accusations of racism, including after he was assigned to sit in the second row at a couture show in Paris in 2013, when white "counterparts" were in the first.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'British Vogue's first male editor in 100 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe