Edward Enninful tells Chris Evans about his journey to becoming Vogue editor: 'I came to England penniless'

Virgin Radio

6 Sep 2022, 14:08

Chris Evans and Edward Enninful

Edward Enninful, joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky this morning to talk about his new memoir The Visible Man and his incredible journey from arriving penniless in England to becoming the editor of Vogue UK.

Edward was born in Ghana and arrived in Britain at 15 years old with his family and not a penny between them. All that he had was a love for fashion, and little did he know, that would change everything.

Fashion was always part of Edward’s life, as he recalled to Chris, his mother was seamstress, and he grew up around beautiful garments and designs, as well as beautiful women of all shapes and sizes.

He explained, “She [his mother] had a company in Ghana of around 40 girls, and she would make incredible clothes for the minister’s wives. When I look at a lot of designers now, I think she would have really made it had she been born in England at the right time.”

“What I learned from my mother was beauty. Women are beautiful, no matter what background or shape. I learned about inclusivity from a very young age,” he continued, “My God, my mother was incredible.”

Having come from an Africa, getting involved in the world of fashion was never on the cards for Edward, who explained that his family always wanted him to become a lawyer or a doctor- but after he arrived in London, the Vogue editor had other plans.

He laughed: “Becoming a lawyer was what I was programmed to do and then I was put on a train and discovered this world of fashion and London and I was hooked.”

After rubbing shoulders and becoming lifelong friends with the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and working for a stint on the magazine ID, Edward joined Vogue as a stylist with a vision to provide a space where every woman could be represented.

In the early 2000s he fronted a Black edition of Italian Vogue after realising there wasn’t one black model at any of the shows during fashion week. With the likes of Campbell and Iman on the front cover, the magazine sold around 400,000 copies, which proved there was a place for inclusivity in the fashion world.

“I realised that at that time, I said to myself, ‘If I ever got into a position of power, I would have women of all sizes, all colours, all races, all religions in the magazine every month,” he recalled.

That is exactly what he pitched when it was announced the previous editor of Vogue UK would be stepping down, and they were in search for someone to take his place.

Speaking about going in front of the bosses at Conde Nast and shooting his shot for the position of editor, Edward said: “I thought ‘there's no way I'm gonna get this job, you know, I'm a man I'm black, I'm gay.’”

Of course, Edward did get the job and says that he still has moments everyday where he has to pinch himself.

“I still have that today, where I think of that little boy from Ghana who arrived penniless,” he said, “I still have those moments and I think that’s what keeps me who I am. That’s what really keeps my feet on the ground.”

For him, writing this memoir was all about reflecting on how far he had come but also to send a message to people who might be struggling and at the end of the interview, Edward shared the one thing he wanted people to take from The Visible Man.

He said: “If you're suffering, if you're going through hard times, just realise that there's light at the end of the tunnel. You know, I came to England penniless and I wasn't supposed to be here, really. And here I am. If I can do it, most people can.”

The Visible Man is out today.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.