Edward Enninful: the new fashion icon

Image by Gabby Fadullon

When it comes to fashion, the people with the most outreach (besides models and designers) are surely the editors-in-chief, especially when their names are associated with the timelessness of Vogue. However, when it comes to the general public, only a few names ring a bell in terms of fashion editors. These include American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and former Italian Vogue head Franca Sozzani. Why is it that no other senior figures at Vogue have been able to build such a global name for themselves? Will Edward Enninful be the new fashion icon when it comes to editor-in-chiefs?

First let’s consider his background. Edward Kobina Enninful OBE was born in February 1972 in Ghana. He emigrated to London at a very young age and by the age of 17 had been introduced to the founder of i-D magazine. This would be a life-changing experience for him: he would become the Fashion Director of i-D magazine at the age of 18, which was the youngest that anyone had been named an editor at a major international fashion title. He went on to hold positions of Contributing Fashion Editor at Vogue Italia and American Vogue, Creative Fashion Director at W Magazine and finally Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue. This final role made him the first and only black editor-in-chief in history at any of the Vogue magazines.

So what makes Enninful so special? I would argue that it is his unique perspective. Fashion has seen mostly the same faces and mentalities for decades, especially prior to the 2000s. Enninful is a black man which in itself gives him a different perspective in comparison with his white counterparts. His African heritage and childhood combined with his London youth experience make for an interesting mix. When thinking of the way he works and organises the magazine, there must be influences from both aspects of his life. Some might say that a unique perspective is not enough. I for one would agree to some extent, as a unique perspective can only flourish when it is met with creativity, desire for innovation and space for change. Enninful has shown to have all that while at British Vogue.

It has to be noted that Enninful has been the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue since 2017, making it approximately 4 years. This is not a lot of time to have one’s name converted into a fashion statement. How has he achieved this? He has proven to know his audience and what they desired cover after cover. His career-long work to bring more inclusivity and representation to the industry made people talk as British Vogue covers provided surprise after surprise. In the last few years, British Vogue has had perhaps the most talked about covers. Every other month they can be seen flooding Instagram and receiving praise from their readers for the innovation they are presenting. Most recently, Billie Eilish changed her look for the British Vogue cover and opened up about body image. The cover blew up on social media, as it was the first time that Eilish wore form-fitting clothes such as corsets instead of baggier ensembles. Here, British Vogue managed to surprise the world in collaboration with Eilish, talk about an important topic (body image) and show the different phases and faces a woman can have.

The covers that British Vogue put out under Enninful’s guidance continue to be embedded in my mind and I’m sure many people share the same opinion. Every British Vogue cover is highly anticipated, and my motto has become: New month, new British Vogue issue. Enninful truly is a star in his own right, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his level of fame reached that of Anna Wintour. 

Article by Sara Dozai

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