After months of speculation, Alexandra Shulman’s successor at British Vogue has finally been announced. And in what may come as a shock to Samantha Cameron – who recently launched a new fashion line, and whose sister Emily Sheffield was hotly tipped for the role – the job has gone to someone cut from slightly different cloth. In fact, the powers that be at Condé Nast have gone for something quite radical: British Vogue now has its first black, male editor.
There will be plenty of people annoyed by Edward Enninful’s appointment. Some will believe that editing Vogue is a woman’s job – and that giving it to a man is a step in the wrong direction. There were plenty of highly-qualified women in the running after all; one wonders how the news is going down at Vogue House. Others will hate the idea of a man telling women what to wear. Women can – of course – tell other women what to wear, but a man? That’s another matter.
Vogue prides itself on being a ‘style bible’ – yet in recent years it has become rather addicted to boring Instagram-friendly celebrities and chasing – rather than defining – fashion trends. In the past few months, Vogue editors have descended into tawdry fights with fashion bloggers, while a fly-on-the-wall documentary did nothing to help British Vogue’s image. Meanwhile Porter – Net-a-Porter’s own magazine – has pioneered a new approach to publishing and e-commerce, which has left Vogue looking somewhat outdated.
Vogue needed a new look – and Enninful may be the answer. He’s experienced and well-connected, having been the fashion and creative director at W magazine since 2011. Roles are reversing all round. We now have a female Prime Minister – and a male editor of Vogue. And why not? If women can do traditional male jobs, then men should be able to do traditional female jobs. As Anna Wintour once put it, ‘Vogue is a fashion magazine, and a fashion magazine is about change.’