Edward Enninful is one of a scant handful black people who have made it big in the business of fashion magazines. Accordingly, he’s one of the few people who can talk authoritatively about what it’s really like. In a recent interview he explains that while there are plenty of talented black models, editors and designers working their way up through the ranks, it’s going to take a lot of education (and a dose of honesty) in order for more of them to succeed.
Enninful, who was recently named the fashion and style director of W Magazine, talked to Hillary Moss of The Huffington Post about everything from his modeling days to what it’s like to work for Anna Wintour. (There’s also the obligatory line about Kate Middleton.) Read a few of our favorite pieces from the interview below.
On working at Vogue:
Comparing Vogue to W would be like comparing apples to oranges. Vogue is an institution, and I’ll always have a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for the magazine and its editor, Anna Wintour. But what I love about W is that it focuses on, sort of, the intersection of fashion, art, design, celebrity, and I think that’s really what fashion is about these days.
On how Michelle Obama changed the fashion industry for people of color:
You know, I look around the industry, there’s still very few black people. The American fashion industry really has had to reassess its approach to fashion, particularly because Obama came into office. You know, for one of the most influential women [First Lady Michelle Obama] in the country to be black. I know that meant a great deal to a lot of black people in the fashion industry. And also now we have Twitter, we have the internet, and I’ve seen so many young black people who are involved in fashion. They’re making their own clothes, they’re styling, they’re taking photographs, and I guess the future generation to come, they’re all racing to become one global fashion industry. That’s what I hope, anyway.
On the reality of using more black models:
I feel that it’s all about education. The best photographers know how to light any color skin. If you’re good at styling, it’s like the first time, you know how to dress any body shape. I think if you’re really good at what you do, you can see outside the box… It depends on the level of vision a person has.
On how awesome Kate Middleton is:
I think she’s doing really great. She looks amazing, and I feel a lot of women can relate to her. You know, they call her the model princess. I like the fact that she champions what’s called the High Street. She has Alexander McQueen, who is one of our greatest designers and was a dear friend of mine. You know, how Sarah Burton designed the wedding dress for her, you know, she definitely a part of the people, and I think she’s going to be as important to fashion and to the world as Lady Di was. She’s definitely a great champion of Britain. We’re very proud of her.
It’s a great interview, and we encourage you to read more of it here.