Edward Enninful on his memoir, “A Visible Man”, and his favorites
Only Edward Enninful could earn glowing endorsements from Donatella Versace, Miuccia Prada, Salman Rushdie and Idris Elba for his literary debut. (It almost goes without saying that her longtime BFFs Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell are also on the list.) British’s first black, male editor vogue and former Creative Fashion Director of that same magazine, Enninful is hugely popular, in part because he’s also hugely influential. But as his memoir details – which he sums up as “a boy from Ghana making his way through a racist, classist industry” – getting to where he is now hasn’t been easy. Below, he explains why he decided to open up and what pop culture he’s been consuming in his cultural diet lately.
The title of your thesis, A visible manis intelligent on many levels.
It came from several things. When you’re black, you’re gay, you’re working class, you’re a refugee, you’re literally supposed to be invisible. My whole life has been to make myself visible, to make myself seen. The irony is that I have very bad eyesight, very bad vision, but [having] a vision and creating images is my world.
I know you’re not normally a nostalgic person. And yet, there are so many details in the book that I thought you should keep a diary or diary.
Oddly enough, I’ve never really kept a journal – the stuff I store in my head is amazing. [Laughs.] I am lucky to have a very good memory. If you and I decided to strike up a conversation years ago, I remember it and people are still shocked. Sure, sometimes I take notes, but most of the time I don’t. Above all, I remember what to remember.
In the preface, you say that you were “a little scared” to write the book. Was it related, as they say, to calling people?
No, I wasn’t really inclined to reveal much about my life. Everyone saw me as the editor of British vogue Where identifier Where O. Then I thought it was something to let the next generation know that when you see people at a certain level of what you call “success,” there’s always a story. I just really wanted to share my story to help people who are dealing with personal illnesses or traumas – anyone who’s ever felt out of place – to say, “Hey, I felt that too.”
You have incredible connections with names like Kate Moss and Meghan Markle. How do you balance using them and promoting newcomers you clearly like?
We have days in the office where young photographers come in, and we keep an eye out for young stylists. I have a young team that is so connected to the world, and I also try to always stay connected. I’m not one of those editors who have to wait for people to bring me information. I am very curious. I’m on every social platform you can think of – just joined TikTok. [Laughs.] So I really like discovering things on my own as well as having a team that is really hungry for information and knowledge.
When it comes to cultural diet questions, what is the first thing you read in the morning?
[Sighs.] Emails, usually from the office. Then I do it New York Times, the papers, all that. But the first thing is emails.
Are you a zero inbox person?
Oh, no, no, no, people keep their inboxes zero? [Laughs.] I did not know. Mine is a disaster. I’m sure I’m at 50,000 or something.
What TV show kept you up at night?
Surface on Apple TV, with my friend Gugu Mbatha-Raw. There are six episodes so far, so I have two left.
Have you been to the cinema recently?
I have, and have seen such an amazing movie…Everything everywhere all at once. I’m obsessed with the idea of multiverses and how one action leads to another. I liked it; I liked it.
What is the last concert you went to?
Afrobeats, by Wizkid. It was the first one I went to after lockdown.
And the podcasts?
Oprah’s super souland talk about art by my friend Russell Tovey. And Meghan [Markle] sent me his the other day. I’m very proud of her, very proud of what she does, and for women.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
I love following Naomi [Campbell], Rihanna and Daniel Kaluuya; they are always fun. And Kristen McMenamy is one of my favorites, a real original. She lives in London, so we go to a rock climbing course together.
Which magazines are always on your radar?
Good, vogue sure. [Laughs.] I read O. And I tend to read a lot of independent magazines to see what the younger generation is up to. I’m still reading identifier-just kind of my background. I look at The faceI look at Dizzy– it reminds me of when I was growing up in London in the 90s.
How big is your magazine collection?
Huge. [Laughs.] Huge. Got some shelves here, then storage [unit] where I keep some too.
Do you revisit them sometimes?
Yes actually. But it’s so easy online. There are some issues you can’t find online, like Old Italian vogueit is and stuff I have to dig up. Thing is, I never kept any of them when I was working there, so now I keep trying to track them down.
What is your phone background right now?
My husband, Alex Maxwell. And when it’s locked, my dog, Ru.
Do you read your horoscope?
[Laughs.] I know so many people believe it, but no, I don’t. I prefer to face the day and help shape my day.
What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Meditation. Try transcendental, where they give you a mantra. It’s incredible. As soon as your mind starts to wander, you repeat your mantra over and over and it brings you back every time. And the more you do it, the longer you stay in the zone. This is the only one that has worked for me all these years.
What is your mantra?
Uh, it’s secret, you’re not allowed to share it!