New British Vogue boss Edward Enninful begins restyle of magazine to attract next generation of readers
Armed with celebrity friends and a powerful social media following, the former model and stylist plans to lead the brand into a new era of fashion publishing
Edward Enninful has taken over as editor of British Vogue, launching a new Snapchat edition as he seeks to reinvigorate the fashion bible that one ex-staffer warned was losing its relevance.
The 45-year-old former model and stylist is the 101-year-old magazine’s first male, first black and first gay editor. Enninful is known for his political activism, provocative shoots and A-list friends.
He has lost no time in bringing in a new team, including his close friend, model Naomi Campbell, award-winning filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen, and US Vogue’s Grace Coddington.
“British Vogue is a great magazine with a legacy of creativity and innovation,” he says. “I look forward to continuing to produce an exciting, beautiful magazine for its readers.”
On his first official day in the job, the magazine made its debut on Snapchat’s Discover platform, promising editions on the application three times a week as it seeks to reach out to new audiences.
Many more changes are expected from the new boss, who cuts a sharply different figure from his predecessor, Alexandra Shulman, who edited British Vogue for 25 years.
Shulman is a down-to-earth figure who largely avoided the spotlight, while Enninful regularly posts updates on social media of his celebrity lifestyle. His dog Ru, a Boston terrier named after drag artist RuPaul, has more than 11,000 followers on Instagram.
A post shared by Ru - Boston Terrier (@ruenninful) on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:37pm PST
Jonathan Newhouse, head of Vogue publisher Condé Nast International, described Enninful as “an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music which shape the cultural zeitgeist”.
Several senior staff members have left Vogue since Enninful’s appointment was announced in April.
One newspaper dubbed it a “Posh Girl exodus” that looks set to change the largely white, middle-classand female face of the magazine.
But one of those who was fired, fashion director Lucinda Chambers, has acknowledged the need for change – admitting she has not read the magazine for years.
She said the clothes featured in fashion shoots were “irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive”.
“In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need,” she said during an interview with industry publication Vestoj.com. “We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continued buying.”
Born in Ghana and brought up in west London with five siblings, Enninful was scouted as a model at the age of 16, whereupon he began his career as a stylist.
He became the youngest fashion director in the industry when he joined i-D, a British youth culture magazine, at the age of 18.
12 years ago, the July 2005 issue of @VogueItalia was released. It was a commentary on the world's obsession with plastic surgery. @francasozzani1, one of the greatest Vogue Editors ever, believed that fashion should always reflect the changing times. Thank you Franca for always being fearless. Photo by #stevenmeisel, Styling by me, Hair by @guidopalau, Makeup by @patmcgrathreal, modeled by @lindaevangelista xoxo #gonetoosoon
A post shared by Edward Enninful, OBE (@edward_enninful) on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:10am PDT
He later worked at Vogue in the US and as contributing editor at Vogue Italia, before moving to W magazine as creative and fashion director in New York in 2011.
Enninful has long pushed for greater diversity in fashion, creating a groundbreaking “All Black” issue for Vogue Italia in 2008.
He has styled next year’s Pirelli calendar featuring exclusively black stars including actress Lupita Nyong’o and rapper-turned-businessman Diddy.
Enninful also helped orchestrate a short film in protest against US President Donald Trump’s travel ban, entitled I am an immigrant, which featured 81 fashion figures.
Enninful was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to fashion last year – after which Campbell and Kate Moss threw him a huge party.
One of the proudest moments of 2016 was when I was awarded an #OBE for Services To Diversity In The Fashion Industry by The Royal Princess, Anne at Buckingham Palace. If You had told my 18 year old self that this would one day be possible, He wouldn't have believed you. Xoxo #investiture #OBE #GreatBritain
A post shared by Edward Enninful, OBE (@edward_enninful) on Jan 18, 2017 at 9:41am PST
“In his attitude towards celebrity and social media, Enninful is something of a bridge between the traditional fashion establishment and the next generation,” the Business of Fashion website wrote in an editorial earlier this year. “Enninful’s core skill, however, is in creating powerful and memorable imagery, which will put him in good stead to revitalise the Vogue brand for a new generation of readers – and followers.”