Edward Enninful Has A Heartfelt Conversation With Lupita Nyong'o About His New Memoir!

British Vogue’s First Black Editor-In-Chief recounted his journey from teen model to history maker.

Edward Enniful, the renowned editor-in-chief of British Vogue, graced the world famous Apollo stage yesterday evening with academy award winner Lupita Nyong'o for a conversation about the release of his new memoir, A Visible Man.

Maxwell, Bevy Smith, Grace Coddington, and celebrity stylist Ty Hunter were amongst the celebrities and fashion elite that filled the theater to hear the editor share more on his story and to get their hands on the first US copies of his highly-anticipated book. 

The night began with a short video clip where celebrities such as Jourdan Dunn, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Kate Moss, Daniel Kaluuya, and Thandie Newton read colorful extracts from the memoir, followed by a heartwarming Q&A between Enniful and Nyong’o.

Known as a visionary for his impactable work, Enninful has solidified his position as one of the most significant changemakers in the world. During the conversation, the EIC recounted his remarkable 34-year career journey, life as a Black, gay, working-class immigrant, and being named the first Black editor-in-chief in the history of British Vogue.

“I moved to London from Takoradi, Ghana at the age of thirteen,” he shared. “In Ghana, I grew up around Black people that looked like me. My mother was a seamstress so every day I saw people of all different shapes and sizes pass through her store.” 

When asked by Nyong’o how life changed when he moved to the UK, Enniful recalled that it was very different. “I suddenly became the minority surrounded by white people and I was often made aware that I was different,” he recalled.

The editor explained that as a child of African parents, the expectation on him was that he would go to the UK, excel in his studies, and become a lawyer or a doctor. But at the age of sixteen, an encounter with a modeling agent on a London train changed his life. “I was asked by the agent if I wanted to model, and much to the dismay of my parents, I entered the fashion world. It was so fascinating to me, I was constantly trying to soak everything up, this is how my love for fashion started,” he explains.

Edward Enninful and Lupita Nyong'o

At the age of eighteen, Enniful was named fashion director of i-D magazine and was tasked with running one of the biggest fashion editorial departments in the '90s. From there, his fashion career continued to escalate. As a lifelong advocate for diverse voices, he went on to spearhead the famous “Black Issue” at Italian Vogue, which featured only Black models. 

He eventually rose to become the fashion and style director of W Magazine, and in 2017, he was appointed to his current role as editor-in-chief of British Vogue. 

The author opened up to the audience and explained that his fashion career has not only given him a place to call home, but also the freedom to tell others how he sees the world. “It has always been my goal to have a magazine where all women are welcome and that’s what I do now with Vogue—I show the beauty of women,” he said. “Fashion has to spark conversation and lead the way, every once in a while you have to disrupt.”

Edward Enninful's book

(Photo courtesy of Apollo Theater/Shahar Azran Photography)

Enniful says it’s his sense of fearlessness that has served him well in his later life. “To get where I am has not just been about success, but it’s also about learning from my mistakes. When I started at Vogue, I decided I was going to do whatever needed to get done, and if I got sacked, it would be because I stood up for something I believed in.” 

Whether it’s championing designers and photographers of color or putting first responders, octogenarians, or civil rights activists on the cover of Vogue, Enniful continues to produce content that reflects the times we live in. 

Enniful hopes that by sharing his journey, others will be encouraged to be fearless in their pursuits and continue to “normalize the marginalized.”

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