Edward Enninful has unveiled his last cover as Editor-In-Chief of British Vogue. The feature, titled “Legends Only” stars 40 iconic women from across music, TV, film and fashion, ranging from Jane Fonda to his first-ever cover star Adowa Aboah, model Naomi Campbell and Grammy-award winner Miley Cyrus, photographed by American photographer Steven Meisel and styled by Enninful.
Oprah Winfrey sits at the heart of the picture, alongside Tennis player Serena Williams and former Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham.
Enninful announced in June that he would be stepping down from his role as Editor-In-Chief of British Vogue into a new role as Conde Nast’s global creative and cultural advisor.
At the time, there was an avalanche of rumours that suggested that Enninful and Anna Wintour – Editor-In-Chief of American Vogue and the chief content officer of Condé Nast – were feuding.
Writing in The Mail Plus at the time, ex-British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman claimed that despite Enninful’s “international influence”, he was “ultimately always playing second fiddle to Anna Wintour” within the company.
Enninful, who became the first black gay man to edit the magazine in 2017, is credited with making the magazine more diverse and inclusive, and for reimagining what it means to be a British Vogue cover star.
For his outgoing editor’s letter – his 76th edition of the magazine throughout his six-and-half-year tenure – Enninful said that he faced adversity when he made it his goal to “change things up” and improve the diversity of the faces featured in the pages of the magazine.
“I still recall, during my early tenure here in 2017, brainstorming my first issues, when a senior company staffer said these words to me: ‘Diversity equals downmarket,’” Enninful wrote.
“I was shocked, of course, but also genuinely confused. Were people really so… what’s a non-confrontational phrase I can reach for here? Shall we go with “close-minded”? Or were there – are there – still people unable to see the world for how it truly is?”
He said: “Never be too wedded to the past, and absolutely never let the wrong voices in your head.”
Enninful added that when his first cover was released, featuring black model and activist Adwoa Aboah, it was seen as a “shock to the system”.
He called out Vogue as a “key offender” in promoting the lack of diversity in the fashion industry.
“Non-white cover stars had been viewed for so long as commercial nonstarters (this magazine had been a key offender, in fact). How ridiculous, I thought. And so it proved. Our first cover was a hit and by September of the following year, I remember standing in a newsagent and seeing almost all of the covers on all of the fashion magazines featuring Black and brown women.”
Enninful said he looks back on his tenure with pride and happiness, and that he and his team were able to show that Vogue had the capacity to “reflect and engage with society through fashion in a more head-on and meaningful way than any of us had previously imagined.”
During his tenure, Laverne Cox, the first out trans person featured on the cover of Vogue in 2019, while the first 80-somethings – Judi Dench in 2020 and Miriam Margolyes in 2023 – also covered the magazine.
He turned the spotlight on activists, and frontline workers, as well as a “new vanguard of disabled talent” for last year’s May issue.
Other culture-shaping issues included Beyoncé on a stallion (2022), Rihanna and child (2023), Rihanna in a durag (2020).
In 2019, Nadine Ijewere became the first photographer of colour to shoot a British Vogue cover, starring singer Dua Lipa.
The full list of cover stars on Enninful’s outgoing issue are: Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Simone Ashley, Victoria Beckham, Selma Blair, Naomi Campbell, Vittoria Ceretti, Gemma Chan, Jodie Comer, Laverne Cox, Cindy Crawford, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Debose, Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn.
They are joined by Paloma Elsesser, Karen Elson, Cynthia Erivo, Linda Evangelista, Jane Fonda, Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid, Salma Hayek, Iman, Maya Jama, Jameela Jamil, Karlie Kloss, Precious Lee, Dua Lipa, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kate Moss, Lila Moss, Rina Sawayama, Irina Shayk, Anya Taylor-Joy, Christy Turlington, Amber Valletta, Serena Williams, Oprah, and Anok Yai.
Signing off his final editor’s letter, Enninful said that despite moving into his new role he is “determined to keep championing the incredible array of voices in fashion and media, and ensure we keep the energy explosion of the last few years going”.
Following Enninful’s departure, editor of Vogue.com, Chioma Nnadi, age has been appointed Editor-In-Chief of British Vogue.
Her journey at Vogue began as a writer in 2010. Rising through the ranks, she was then promoted to fashion news director and, most recently, editor of Vogue.com.
The London-born journalist Nnadi will be the first Black woman to lead the legendary fashion magazine since its inception in 1916. When the appointment was announced, she said she was “beyond excited and honoured”, to be made British Vogue’s head of editorial content.
The March 2024 issue of British Vogue is on sale from 13 February 2024.