This month marked a special occasion for Vogue. While those who read this fashion bible may consider every first Friday of the month a cause for celebration, this week’s issue was particularly significant because it marked the beginning of Edward Enninful’s Vogue era. The new age of Vogue.
For many, Enninful at British Vogue has been a long time coming. Since emigrating to London (from his native Ghana) as a teenager he has been a tour-de-force. Becoming i-D’s youngest ever fashion director and clocking up further high-ranking positions at the coveted publications of Italian Vogue, American Vogue, W and more.
Enninful’s achievements have also landed him with many awards throughout his career, such as a British Fashion Council Award for Fashion Creator. However, his latest accolade (only an OBE!) which recognises his commitment to diversity within the fashion industry is most prevalent in the wake of his new title at British Vogue.
This is especially true when considering the recent comments of Alexandra Shulman, Vogue’s former editor-in-chief of twenty-five years. After writing an article which insinuated that being a fashion editor is more than having a celebrity-filled friendship circle (which many felt was an attempt to side-swipe Enninful), her latest discussion with the Guardian was even more catastrophic in its implications on lack of diversity in the fashion industry. In this interview, Shulman showed a complete disregard for the institutional racism that remained at bastions like Vogue. Instead, she profaned ignorance to the white privilege that, as Naomi Campbell pointed out, played a role in the employment of a fifty-strong team from white backgrounds.
“The new editor-in-chief’s first publication is a ‘tribute to our country’ “
Thankfully, our first glimpse of the #NewVogue shows that Enninful’s outlook on diversity is immediately visible. The cover features Enninful’s long-time friend and creator of digital forum “Gurls Talk” Adwoa Aboah. She may be the girl of the moment, but she is also a figure-head for leading conversations of girls’ experiences with mental health. There are also contributions from, amongst others, writer of “White Teeth” and “Swing Time” Zadie Smith, acclaimed film director of “12 Years a Slave” and “Hunger” Steve Mcqueen, and writer of “The Satanic Verses” and “Midnight’s Children” Salman Rushdie.
The new editor-in-chief’s first publication is a ‘tribute to our country’ and the part that everyone plays in making Great Britain “Great”. Speaking about the diverse cultural backgrounds of his new contributing editors, Enninful drives the point home that “Regardless of where they were born or how they got here… they all share huge pride in their homeland”. The aim to unite our country is especially apt given the unpredictable (and frankly bleak) political climate that we are currently facing.
Towards the end of Enninful’s editor’s letter, he reminds us that “my Vogue will be the fashion bible”. The dialogue between fashion and arts, politics and society is a continuous narrative and one cannot live without the other. With this outlook in mind, I for one will be subscribing to Vogue, and voraciously reading what the new voices, championed by Enninful’s leadership, have to say. I sincerely hope you will to.
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Featured Image courtesy of Didier Lahousse via flickr. License here.