‘British Vogue’ Editor Edward Enninful Talks Beauty and Inclusivity in Fashion – NPR
Rafael Pavarotti/Penguin Random House
Black women don’t sell magazines. That’s what Edward Enninful has heard since the beginning of his career in the fashion industry. And to him it sounded silly.
“Me [was raised] My mother was a seamstress, making clothes for women of all sizes, regardless of skin color or age, for the most beautiful women,” says Enninful. .”
The industry reality was often different. Enninful’s family immigrated to the UK from Ghana when he was a child. During his teenage years, he was “spotted” by a modeling agent on a train, but when he went to casting calls, he was often fired because of his race.
“People will say I’m too dark, my lips are too big, my nose is too wide,” he says. “At the time, I saw firsthand that it was not very desirable for him to be light-skinned or black.”
At 18, Enninful quit modeling and started working behind the camera. iD, A magazine focused on youth street style. As his director of art for the magazine, he made it his goal to represent all the diversity of the world. one more! …and I really wasn’t scared because I knew the world I saw had to be reflected. ”
This insight is one of the driving forces behind Enninful’s 30-year career as a stylist, art director and editor for some of the world’s most popular fashion magazines and brands.has served as editor-in-chief of british vogue Since 2017, he holds the distinction of being the first male black and gay editor in the magazine’s 106-year history.
Enninful wrote about his life and career in his memoir. visible man.
On growing up in her mother’s atelier in Ghana
My mother had an atelier and there were about 40 seamstresses, so the bungalow had a large room and the seamstresses were sewing here and there. And my mother will be in another room. If she knows African fabrics, she knows colors. African women love to dress up. African women don’t dress down. So I was her mother’s assistant. I sketch with her. I literally zip women into a sort of corset dress. , when people talk about inclusivity and diversity, I knew from a young age that beauty really started for me… with curvy women.
On how his mother’s African fashion influenced his editor’s eyes
I remember when my mom always loved the cinched waist. She always liked big sleeves, three-layer sleeves, and she liked three-layer peplums. [in] African wax print. It was all about highlighting, not hiding. I remember very beautiful prints like orange, green, green with orange, yellow with brown, and unexpected colors. A strange combination”, but it works.
On appointment as fashion director identification when he was 18
There was me, 18, in charge of this important magazine. So what did I do? I just threw myself into it. I learned everything I could about magazines. I didn’t sleep I literally style the cover. I work on cover lines. Work on a magazine feature. I am working on a shopping page. So it was like a one-man army. On top of that, I was learning how to sell magazines in the advertising department. And then there were these club nights. So I went to those club nights too. So that we can show the world what we do as a magazine and get them to invest. I belonged to the art club. When you’re 18 and feel like an impostor, all you can learn is just learning. So I couldn’t sleep. All I did was work and learn my craft.Although it was quite difficult [for] Years later, in that moment, I knew I couldn’t fail.
On the Importance of Empathy in Fashion
When you’re working with Rihanna or Beyoncé or any other incredible icon, the slightest expression on their face tells you if they’re comfortable or a little uncomfortable. Thanks to Mother’s Studio, we’re aware of all this and researching what makes women truly comfortable and feeling their best.
Had I not been by my mother’s side and immersed in the beauty of women and women, I probably would not have had such sensitivity. It was sympathy. … you have to be able to feel what someone is feeling. Because I always say clothes. It’s not just clothing, it’s armor. It’s how you want the world to see you, how you want to be perceived when you leave home. So, as a designer, as a stylist, you have to really empathize with women, women’s bodies, and how women are inherently feeling.
About the 2008 All Black vogue italiafeaturing a cover-to-cover black man, took his career to the next level
black issue started [after] Twice a year, I went to the ready-to-wear collections where designers present their clothes to the world. And I remember sitting there really sad because there wasn’t a single black model out of the 40 model line-up. I didn’t have one! …and I remember going back to New York because I was working in New York at the time W magazine And said to my colleague Steven Meisel, trend, he shot all the covers. I was sitting with Stephen and I was so sad I said, …
Stephen said, “Let me talk to Franca Sozzani.” … [She] was the editor of Italian trend Back then, a true visionary literally came back and said, “Let’s do an issue full of black women… cover to cover.” It was a really great moment. I worked with Tokara Jones, Naomi Campbell on the shoot, and it was incredible to see an issue with Iman, Beverly Johnson, Tyra Banks, and all the young models. It was an incredible idea and an incredible moment. sold out. I think they had to reprint 40,000 copies at the time. But it showed that Black could sell, in fact the world was waiting, or the world wanted it, but they weren’t offered it. It’s a thing.
On what it means to receive an award from the British Empire as an immigrant
Oh my god, I realized that I contributed something to my country. And I was not just a little outsider on a plane with my brother, I was able to take the opportunity and work really hard. I was able to grow up in …so it was a really great moment when I won the award. Especially for my father, who literally had to come to another country and start a whole new life, unable to work, have no money, and raise six children. It was a very special moment for him. He was so proud of it, which was also one of the reasons why I agreed to accept it.
On letting his imagination run wild while recovering from eye surgery
In the dark and blind, I dreamed bigger. I saw Technicolor. I saw color. After her three weeks in the dark, we created the most memorable cover featuring Rihanna as Queen. W magazine…you may not be able to style it [I lose my vision], but I know I can withdraw into my imagination. Because my imagination sees everything. I see beauty
about getting ideas from his dreams
Sometimes I’m really fighting with myself and I can’t think of any ideas and I fall asleep. And when I wake up, I see all the images. Look at the model, look at the location, look at the hair, look at the makeup. And for years I thought it was cheating. [It was] I said “It’s actually a gift” because I didn’t know… what a gift is. ”
Anne-Marie Valdonado and Seth Kelly produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper, and Beth Novey adapted it for the web.