For as long as I can remember the doors of British Vogue were tightly shut for ‘people like me’. I saw my own interns – with wonderfully English names – some with lots of experience (who have deserved every opportunity they forged for themselves), but some with very little experience – all being offered internships – whilst my applications had never even received a response from anyone at British Vogue. My work had been featured in Vogue Nippon, Vogue India, yet my home Vogue – nothing. I spent a long time at Vogue House working across fashion and editorial for lots of other publications and it was a total dream. On my first day there, at BRIDES, I was so nervous that I threw up – not kidding in the slightest unfortunately. Conde Nast Traveller’s Fiona Lintott was the best fashion mentor I could have asked for, but when it came to lunch times and breaks, Fiona would have meetings with luxury brands so I’d wonder down to the canteen and find myself totally alone.
One day I was approached by a woman who knocked on the door of the fashion office, she passed me her phone number on a post it note and said, “I’ve seen you around and if you ever need anything, you message me..” She seemed almost worried about me, and handed me the note as if it were a secret code… I had never seen her before and she didn’t work on the same floor as me. But when I went out to see where she was going, I soon realised that I was the only person of colour in the entire team, and that ‘lady’, was the only other person of colour working for a magazine at Vogue House – that I had seen anyways… We were the only people of colour – apart from security and post room staff. I was stunned… I hadn’t ever seen myself as an ‘other’ in fashion. I had in theatre and that’s why I left – but fashion had always felt so much more inclusive to me – until that day.
So that is why I was in tears when it was announced Edward Enninful was to take over at British Vogue. Enninful’s work and attitude intrinsically stand for kindness, representation and inclusivity. He was the kindest person I had met in the industry all those years ago at Paris Fashion Week and that kindness has not in any way dampened.
Today, as we drove up to the Conde Nast store, Mr Enninful was sat, facing the window and gleefully waving at passers by, all stopping to take photos and videos of him. Often, at book signings, even when invited as press there is a feeling of hurriedness – but again – this just doesn’t feel like his style.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a very special hardback copy of British Vogue, 1 of 700, signed by the man himself. And what struck me the most is his constant gratitude – he is so grateful for the support – he is so welcoming – and I couldn’t think of a better role model for the next generation of fashion – for this generation of fashion – and to transcend fashion. The Mayor of London always says #LondonisOpen – Edward Enninful OBE is proving that the new era and rebranding of British Vogue, truly shows that #VogueisOpen and this is just the beginning.