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Edward Enninful to Lead British Vogue: An Appointment that Marks a Shift Towards Diversity and Representation

Edward Enninful, fashion and creative director for fashion high end publication, W magazine, was announced as the newly appointed chief-in-editor for British Vogue this month. Successor to Alexandra Shulman, who stepped down from the position in January, Condé Nast international chairman and chief executive, Jonathan Newhouse, described Enninful as, “an influential figure,” within the scope of fashion, and, “supremely prepared to assume the responsibility”. Enninful will assume his new role this coming August.

Enninful’s career in fashion began at the early age of 16 years old, when the Ghanaian-born, London resident was scouted for modeling, and featured in magazines such as Arena and i-D. Two years later, after becoming acquainted with i-D co-founder, Terry Jones, Enninful was appointed fashion director for the British youth magazine. At only 18 years old, Enninful was the youngest ever to be name an editor for such a high profile and internationally acclaimed publication.

From this moment on, Enninful’s career and reputation in fashion publication would be solidified, and he would use his influence as a platform to address the ever-difficult topic of inclusion in fashion. Serving as a contributing editor for both Vogue and Vogue Italia, one of his most noteworthy contributions is the highly acclaimed, “The Black Issue,” for Vogue Italia which debuted in July 2008. The issue featuring black models only, was a special, collector’s edition with a fold out cover featuring four, black models: Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn, and Naomi Campbell.

All Black Issue

Vogue Italia’s “Black Issue,” contained a fold-out, four page cover featuring models (left to right): Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn, and Naomi Campbell.

Controversial in its own right, the issue brought to the table the conversation of representation, diversity, and valuing Euro-centric ideals of beauty over others in an obvious and glaring way. While receiving much praise for his editorial work, not all were impressed with the Ennninful’s efforts. Columnist for The Guardian, Priyamvada Gopal, lamented that at the end of the day, the black models still conformed to European beauty standards. “There’s not a “natural” or “kinky” in sight, indeed, barely even a mop of curly hair. This is black girls-as-white girls,” Gopal writes in her article, “Vogue: all white now?” Nevertheless, “The Black Issue” helped to add dialogue and awareness to a long and difficult conversation.

In his new role, there are high hopes that Enninful will do for British Vogue what he has done for Vogue Italia, indeed for fashion as a whole, and that is making diversity a regular part of fashion culture – not just a novelty. A more recent example of his stance can be seen in his work with the “I Am an Immigrant” Campaign by W magazine, which was a direct response to President Trump’s Muslim ban.

With instances such as these in his portfolio, Enninful’s appointment is one met with excitement and anticipation, especially for women of color who have longed voiced their frustrations. Enninful appears to be an understanding and supportive ally in this discussion, and his efforts for representation appear to be genuine. ““If you put one [non-white] model in a show or in an ad campaign, that doesn’t solve the problem,” Enninful shared with The Guardian, “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.”

The fashion world is now left to only wait and watch the fate and direction Enninful will take the publication. It is an exciting time, and with many other strides for diversity occurring in the industry, this one marks a pointed shift in the conversation. It would seem that the people are being heard, their message is loud and clear, and it appears that fashion is, finally, responding.


Author’s Note: Hello everyone! This post is a portion of an assignment for one of my online classes. I do not take credit for the direct quotations, and try to give credit where credit is due. This extends to the images as well, which I needed for my assignment, but do not take credit for in anyway. Finally, I receive no monetary compensation for this, as it is strictly a school assignment. Thanks!

Featured Image credit: Notorious-mag.com

“The Black Issue” Cover Image credit: NYtimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Edward Enninful: First on the Job @ British Vogue - Fashion School Daily, School of Fashion Blog at Academy of Art University

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