MAJOR MOMENT: Edward Enninful’s appointment Monday as editor in chief of British Vogue was praised throughout the fashion world, with industry observers applauding the historic nature of the naming of the first non-white man to edit a mainstream women’s fashion magazine. Enninful, who starts his new job Aug. 1, is succeeding Alexandra Shulman.
Enninful has served as creative and fashion director at W since 2011. There’s no word on who will succeed him at W, but Condé Nast noted that the creative director will work on that title’s next few issues, including its September issue. In his new job, Enninful will oversee all editorial content and will report to Albert Read, managing director of Condé Nast Britain.
Sources had said the race to succeed Shulman had come down to a choice between Enninful and stylist Katie Grand, who also is editor in chief of the quarterly Love magazine. Enninful joins the roster of new male editors editing European publications including Emanuele Farneti, who was named editor in chief of Vogue Italia and L’uomo Vogue earlier this year. The former GQ Italia editor succeeded the late Franca Sozzani, who died last December.
Nick Knight, who photographed Enninful during his modeling days, said his appointment is “a really exciting moment for fashion.”
“I think that it’s a big step,” said Knight. “I think it’s something that should’ve happened a long time ago in many respects but of course it’s good it’s happening now. I think Edward will bring a very new feel to the magazine and fashion is about change and this is indeed a big change. Edward is a very lovely man in so much that he’s very caring of people around him.”
Aside from his caring side, Knight underscored Enninful’s passion for imagery — which may be a point of differentiation from Schulman’s Vogue, which she helmed for 25 years.
“He’s an imagist,” Knight said. “Edward Enninful likes making fashion imagery and that’s the magazine, before it’s journalism, before anything else, the magazine is about fashion photography and I think the fashion photography to a certain degree, largely within industry, has been run down.”
Vanity Fair contributing editor and stylist Elizabeth Saltzman worked with Enninful on a shoot 13 years ago.
“I have been literally campaigning for this — I am so excited,” said Saltzman. “It’s just fantastic because Edward honestly is the real deal. He is a hard worker, he’s smart, he started as bottom of the heap. There’s just not a negative to be said and that’s extraordinary in this tough world. You know it’s historic for the obvious reasons of a man and a black man. That is just wonderful and he’s infectious, his talent is inspiring, his work ethic is amazing. It’s just all good.”
Saltzman said that “if it’s anything like him, he’ll bring the current affairs to British Vogue, just modernized in a way that only he can do with his team.”
“I believe that he hears a lot of women’s voices,” said Saltzman. “He’s so smart and well-educated and well-read and just always looking for news and information and giving people a shot. I just think that he’ll make it as current as it can be and relevant to today’s taste.”
Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council, called Enninful’s appointment “wonderful news.”
“Edward is forward-thinking, innovative, commercially astute,” said Rush. “He is a true revolutionary when it comes to his ideas on what fashion should be. I am excited to see how he will positively shape this era in fashion and publishing, leading the talented team at British Vogue.”
Born in Ghana, Enninful was raised in Ladbroke Grove in London and was scouted by Simon Foxton at 16. He modeled for two years before assisting Beth Summers at i-D, while earning his degree at Goldsmiths University of London. He met founders Trish and Terry Jones and was appointed fashion director of i-D magazine at age 18, after Summers left the publication. While at i-D, he produced creative editorial influenced by the streets of London and nightlife and made a name for himself with his creative edginess.
As a contributing editor at Vogue Italia, he worked closely with Sozzani and Steven Meisel on editorials, in particular “The Black Issue,” in July 2008, which highlighted only black models, actresses and names in arts, entertainment and politics. He also styled the magazine’s June 2011 cover, “Belle Vere,” which featured plus-sized models.
His work as a stylist led him to work with a number of brands and designers including Calvin Klein, Céline, Christian Dior, Comme des Garçons, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, H&M and Valentino.