LONDON—To misquote a great Londoner, if these aren’t necessarily the worst of times for post-Brexit Britain, they aren’t the best of times, either. The nation has suffered through what feels like one disaster after another this year, from terrorist attacks to political catastrophes to the increasingly dysfunctional organization of its impending divorce from the European Union. Britain, according to a recent opinion piece by The New York Times’s Steven Erlanger, is “unmoored, heading to nowhere” and “embracing an introverted irrelevance.” Ouch.
But then, almost out of nowhere, came the December issue of British Vogue. The new installment is the first released under the management of Edward Enninful, whose appointment as editor-in-chief was announced in April, and its tone is one of defiant, gleeful, unabashed pride in where it comes from. The cover photo, which sports a striking close-up of the British model and activist Adwoa Aboah, makes a statement all by itself, even without the roster of names accompanying it: Zadie Smith, Naomi Campbell, Sadiq Khan, Steve McQueen, Grace Coddington, Skepta. The tagline for the issue? Great Britain.
Enninful, 45, was born in Ghana but raised in West London. After an early foray into modeling as a teenager, he became the fashion editor for i-D magazine at 18, combining his new career with a degree at the University of London. His resume includes a stint as fashion and style director at W, and a contributing editorship at Italian Vogue, where he spearheaded that magazine’s first ever “Black Issue,” featuring only black models, which sold so successfully it necessitated a print run of 60,000 additional copies. His conception of fashion has long embraced inclusivity rather than ivory towers, something the model Naomi Campbell noted in August when she posted a picture of British Vogue’s previously all-white editorial staff to her Instagram page. “Looking forward to an inclusive and diverse staff now that @edward_enninful is the editor,” Campbell wrote.