LONDON — The 49-year-old Edward Enninful may still be a relatively young man with seemingly miles of career ahead, but that hasn’t stopped him from penning a memoir, which is due to be published next September by Penguin.
In “A Visible Man,” Enninful traces his trajectory from a working-class refugee from Ghana, who grew up on a London council estate, to his appointment as the first Black editor in chief of British Vogue, and most recently, Vogue’s European editorial director.
Enninful is one of the few editors to remain in the upper echelons of Condé Nast despite the company’s continued downsizing. (A Condé Nast spokesperson has described changes at the company as a “reorganization,” and said the global workforce has increased by 3 percent since those changes were enacted).
Enninful said said that since he began working as a model at age 16 in the late 1980s, he’s barely paused for breath.
“I always felt like a man on a mission; an outsider who had found his way to the inner sanctum, bringing my own perspective to bear on an industry I loved, but wanted to see evolve. And so I worked every hour of every day at breakneck speed,” he said.
Enninful added that societal changes over the last few years — in the fashion industry and in the wider world — have been gratifying. “Suddenly, all the things I had worked so hard to champion in my career — inclusivity, opportunity, beauty in all its forms — felt as if they were top of the agenda.”
Enninful said he’s written a memoir in order to share “my own experiences from childhood to the offices of Vogue, and show how anyone can make change in the world, with a little passion, perseverance, and a pure heart. I just want everyone to feel like, no matter where they come from in life, or whatever their dream is, they can grasp it. Just like I did.”
Christopher Richards, senior editor at Penguin Press, who acquired the North American rights from Meredith Miller and Albert Lee at UTA, described the book as a “big-hearted memoir from a creative genius who has broken barriers throughout his life. We need stories like this to help light the path forward, to remind us that we live in a world of possibility.”
Enninful is the winner of many industry accolades, and in 2016 received an OBE, or Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for his services to diversify the fashion industry, shortly before taking up the top role at British Vogue.
Born in Ghana, Enninful moved to London as a child and grew up with his five siblings in Ladbroke Grove. He broke into the industry as a teenage model, and would later take up the fashion director role at i-D magazine, where he worked for decades.
He worked for the Italian and American editions of Vogue before becoming creative and fashion director of W Magazine.
At British Vogue, he has championed diversity, spotlighting Britain’s National Health Service workers on the front lines of COVID-19, shooting them in their scrubs with hospital ID tags slung around their necks.
His first cover for British Vogue featured the model and activist Adwoa Aboah, shot by Steven Meisel, and he invited Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, to guest edit the magazine’s September issue in 2019, which focused on women changemakers.
While working at W Magazine in New York, Enninful directed the video “I Am an Immigrant,” which featured fashion industry figures talking about their personal experiences in the wake of President Trump’s travel ban on Muslim countries.
In 2017, he told WWD that British Vogue had to represent “real women, and to be reflective of the society we live in. Diversity is very important for me. I want Vogue to feel like a shop that you’re not scared to walk into, one that’s quite welcoming.”
In that same interview, he talked about growing up an as immigrant in Britain. “London welcomed my family, I grew up in Notting Hill in a multicultural society. I lived in two worlds. One was the world of school, Britain, and then I’d go home to another one with different colors and smells. My view of the world has always been very open.”