Fashion can be considered frivolous and in some ways it is.
Fashion can be considered frivolous and in some ways it is. It is ephemeral, lasting for a season, gone. Real people wear clothes, always have, but fashion is the art of the self.
Of course Vogue Magazine is part of the Big Business of fashion, and to be taken with a pinch of salt. But things are about to be changed. I was asked recently to come on BBC Radio to explain what the big deal is about the appointment of the stylist Edward Enninful as editor-in chief of British Vogue. It’s this: Enninful brings a new generation of not only fashion itself to this august bible, but he brings a new way of fashion thinking to the magazine. Out goes the kind of ‘county/country’ that the magazine had; and in comes something anarchic and what I call ‘British International’.
Enninful dropped out of university to make his mark in fashion and was spotted very quickly. He modelled a bit, and then began to style and to shoot with an eye to the anarchic, edgy, strange, awkwardly beautiful and diverse.
Italian Vogue, that rebel in the Vogue stable and creator of the ‘all Black issue’ of models and fashion (Enninful’s work, by the way) nurtured him and encouraged him.
It is said that he responded to Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a man said to not be a fan of civil rights, by styling a shoot of models climbing the steps of Enninful’s very own version of the Supreme Court. They were ethnically diverse.
When Trump launched his immigration ban, Enninful made a video showing the various immigrant fashion celebrities who had made their name in America. He has been awarded the OBE for his work for diversity in fashion.
He’s already changed much of the approach of the Vogue stable towards diversity and much more will come. You could easily say that Enninful is the best of what happens when British rebelliousness links tradition with the Continent. The combination creates something alive, fresh, proactive and that never stands still.
Enninful is bringing everyone on board: including the legend that is Grace Coddington, British-born but who made her name in New York. The real question of our time is ‘Open’. Or ‘Closed’.
Edward Enninful is the epitome of ‘Open’, and British Vogue will be, too.
And by the way, British street fashion is still legendary. All of us immigrants know that.