Edward Kobina Enninful OBE is the editor-in-chief of British Vogue. He was chosen to be the fashion director of British fashion magazine i-D at the age of 18, a rank he maintained for two decades. Edward Enninful is a named linked to Vogue and fashion as he has worked on the Italian, American and British edition of the magazine for more than 20 years.
Edward Enninful was born in Ghana in February 1972 and when he was still a child, he moved to Ladbroke Grove, London, together with his family (parents and five siblings). His mother worked as a seamstress. He got inspired by her use of the vividly patterned colours and fabrics.
At the age of 16, Enninful was spotted on a train by stylist Simon Foxton. “I was 16 and I had no idea who Simon Foxton was,” he said in an interview for Telegraph Magazine. “About two weeks later I was stopped again, this time by a model scout. When I told her that I’d already been approached by Simon Foxton, she told me how amazing he was and weeks later I was shooting with him at his house, along with Nick Knight, a founder-photographer of i-D.”
Enninful called his short modelling career as his “baptism into fashion”. Later on, he got introduced to Trish and Terry Jones, founder of i-D magazine, and soon started assisting i-D fashion director Beth Summers. He completed college, getting a degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, while balancing his modelling career and helping with shoots with Foxton and Summers. He then got a full-time job there.
In 1998, Enninful became an editor to Italian Vogue. According to him, working with Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel helped him to develop as a stylist. “I always say that I was a London stylist but when I worked with Steven, I became a proper stylist.”
At Italian Vogue, he created the “Black Issue”, which involved only black models, like Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Alek Wek. He called his intention as ending the “white-out that dominates the catwalks and magazines”. The issue was so popular that Condé Nast had to print an extra 40,000 copies.
Enninful also styled the June 2011 cover editorial, “Belle Vere”, which solely featured plus-sized models such as Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, and Robyn Lawley.
In 2011, Enninful was tapped to take the style directorship at W magazine. He brought significance to the magazine’s fashion editorials. For instance, he dressed the outré R&B artist Nicki Minaj as a French noblewoman. W’s editor, , credited Enninful in part with the magazine’s 16 percent growth in ad page in 2012.
Enninful was approved as the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue on 10 April 2017. Condé Nast International chairman and chief executive Jonathan Newhouse declared him as the successor to Alexandra Shulman, calling Enninful “an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music which shape the cultural zeitgeist”, adding that “by virtue of his talent and experience, Edward is supremely prepared to assume the responsibility of British Vogue“. It was noted that Enninful is much more popular on the internet than Shulman.
Enninful, the first male editor of the fashion publication, said: “For me, British Vogue has always been about diversity of perspective, whether that was ethnicity, gender, age, it’s been very important to me and for me age is not an issue.
“Yet there’s still so much discrimination in the fashion and beauty industries so that’s why the non-issue is dedicated to these women over 50 who may feel left behind because of their age”.
“British Vogue will continue to celebrate and profile all of these women over 50. In the past we’ve put the spotlight on Vanessa Redgrave, Oprah Winfrey, Kristin Scott Thomas, Diane Von Furstenberg, the list goes on and I feel now really, in this age, it’s a time to give a voice to women who feel voiceless.
“We have to be inclusive to women who feel excluded and really to challenge the industry head-on”. “Age discrimination still exists, consciously and unconsciously, leaving many women feeling excluded and invisible”.
Enninful and Markle collaborated on the September Vogue issue, the cover of which was a grid of 15 women jointly selected as “Forces For Change”. As the Guardian suggests, it quickly became a proxy battle about modern, diverse Britain. “I was so engrossed in these women, and in the magazine,” Enninful told the Guardian. “We were not trying to create an issue that was shocking – we were shining a light on incredible women, some who are not famous at all.”