It’s been a ground-breaking week in the fashion industry.
After being described as “an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music which shape the cultural zeitgeist”, Ghanaian, Edward Enninful was confirmed as the new editor-in-chief (EIC) of British Vogue. The first man to hold the position. With the help of his predecessor Alexandra Shulman who ran British Vogue for 25 years, Edward will officially start his role on 1st August.
“Edward is an exceptionally talented stylist who will no doubt bring an exciting new creative aesthetic to the magazine. Every Vogue editor arrives with their own range of talents and experience and Edward is very known, respected and liked within the fashion industry” Alexandra Shulman, British Vogue incumbent EIC
Edward Enninful timeline, starting from the top!
2017 – The first man to be the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, aged 45.
2016 – Awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), in honour of services to diversity in fashion.
Throughout his career, Enninful has been recognised for this contribution and influence on the fashion industry.
2014 – Received Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards.
2011 – Style director of American fashion publication, W Magazine, where he was credited with improving the publication’s relevance and finances.
Edward was pivotal in Vogue Italia’s July 2008 ‘All Black’ issue, featuring only black models (styled by Edward), which sold out in hours.
2006-2011 – Worked for American Vogue.
1998-2001 – Worked for Vogue Italia
1990 – Fashion director of British youth culture magazine i-D. Becoming the youngest director of an international fashion publication, aged 18.
Worked as an assistant with stylists Simon Foxton (who scouted Edward) and Beth Summers on fashion shoots.
1988 – Model-scouted on the London Underground tube system, aged 16.
Moved to Ladbroke Grove, West London as a child with his family.
1972 – Born in Ghana, West Africa
The Vogue Italia issue was monumental; having a visceral effect on readers disillusioned with an industry perceived as being endemically racist. According to Time Magazine, the original run of the issue (which had four different covers) sold out in the U.S. and U.K. in 72 hours. An extra, 30,000, 10,000 and 20,000 copies were reprinted in the U.S., U.K. and Italy, respectively. Not just featuring black models, the issue had interviews with Film Director Spike Lee and former editor of Vogue Paris, Edmonde Charles-Roux, who allegedly resigned in 1966 when he wasn’t not allowed to put a black model on the front cover. Although heavily air-brushed as all magazines are, the impact of the 2008 issue cannot be trivialized.
Photos: Steven Meisel
While Enninful’s appointment is very important and his impact on the fashion industry poignant, we can’t expect things to shift dramatically. It will take time.
He is one man, a very influential man, but one man. I hope he’ll be able to withstand the pressure of being the first non-white editor of British Vogue and the expectation that follows, if he is to take the publication in a new direction.
“By virtue of his talent and experience, Edward is supremely prepared to assume the responsibility of British Vogue.” Jonathan Newhouse Condé Nast International, CEO
We know Enninful isn’t shy about displaying black beauty in fashion. In 2015 as the Style Director of W magazine, he styled an all-black spread, shot by renowned Australian fashion photographer Emma Summerton. The aptly named “Natural Selection” spread showcased models with natural hair, featuring Ajak Deng, Amilna Estevao, Anais Mali, Aya Jones, Binx Walton and Tami Williams.
“If you put one [non-white] model in a show or in an ad campaign, that doesn’t solve the problem. “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.” – Edward Enninful
According to a report by The Fashion Spot, covering diversity across New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion shows in all four cities for the Autumn 2017 collections, 72% of models cast in shows where white and 28% women of colour. This is an improvement on previous years, so things are slowly progressing. London came second out of the four cities, behind New York with an increase in its ‘diversity score’.
You could argue that in 2017, black models on the front of magazines and black professionals appointed to top positions within the fashion industry shouldn’t be headline news. But it is headline news, indicating there are still strides to take and work to be done.
I’m routing for Edward and British Vogue to pleasantly surprise us.
Watch this space.
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