A Year of Edward Enninful

Helena Hussey recalls Edward Enninful's first year at Vogue...

Helena Hussey
26th November 2018

As we roll into the December issues, there is one very important thing to remember: Edward Enninful has now been Editor-in-Chief at British Vogue for a year.

[pullquote]And, my, what a year it’s been.[/pullquote] And, my, what a year it’s been. Although Enninful has been a prominent figure in the fashion industry for a long time, working at W and starting his career at i-D, this move thrust him in the lime light. It’s been a year chocca block full of impressive covers, stunning editorials and thought-provoking articles, and yet not without a sprinkling of controversy (who can forget Lucinda Chambers’s open letter in Vestoj). This year at #newvogue seems to have had everything that Shulman’s Vogue was lacking – the new covers are hotly anticipated; the models and cover stars are endearing for both their relative anonymity and their superstardom, and we are finally, finally, seeing diversity on the front cover.

When that Adwoa Aboah cover dropped, it felt like my Instagram broke. It did not matter how much I scrolled, but I just couldn’t get away from her. And thank God for it, because that image is stunning; and was the perfect starter for what was to be the main and desert throughout this years’ worth of magazines. This happened again when Ariana Grande appeared on the cover, in a way unlike any of us had seen her before. Once more it seemed that Enninful had broken the internet. So, with the first two courses finished, Rihanna is then revealed as the September cover girl, and quite frankly, I cannot think of a better September issue in a long time. In these covers we can also see Enninful’s versatility as a stylist: he can do hyper glam or stripped back. [pullquote]I think this is what we are all thirsting for in magazine culture – people as we’ve never seen then before. [/pullquote] I think this is what we are all thirsting for in magazine culture – people as we’ve never seen then before. With the bombardment of images on social media to see celebrities completely transformed is like a breath of fresh air.

Another huge impact Enninful has had is diversity. Genuine diversity; not a curvier size 6 girl, or a black model on one cover of the twelve throughout the year. Instead Enninful is making diverse covers the norm, not the exception. Seeing the likes of Oprah and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and not just the same girls that Shulman had on repeat – here’s looking at you Kate Moss – on the front cover creates a genuine sense of excitement when the cover is revealed. The sense of excitement is sustained even when the covers are of fresh faces like Adut Akech and Fran Summers. Enninful’s beginning to make it feel like British Vogue is really giving new models their career defining moment, which couldn’t be more important for the fashion scene and credibility of London as a fashion market.

All in all, British Vogue couldn’t have asked for a better reception: its circulation has increased, but most importantly its cool factor has increased tenfold. It also seems as if Enninful’s influence is ricocheting throughout the magazine industry, as Porter, Vogue US, Elle Canada and Elle UK all placing women of colour on their front covers. As the New York Times fashion editor Vanessa Friedman recently wrote: “climate change is not just about the environment” and it seems that Enninful is the one who is changing the climate surrounding magazine culture, for the better.

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