Oprah and Edward Enninful Discuss His Life Before Leading “British Vogue”

·4 min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Edward Enninful's keen eye for style has led him to dominate the world of European fashion magazines: Enninful is both the editor-in-chief of British Vogue as well as the European editorial director of Vogue. His latest mission is to share his barrier-breaking story in his new memoir, A Visible Man.

Oprah and Enninful first met in 2018, when Oprah was featured on the cover of British Vogue. Oprah thinks of Enninful as her "dear friend," and he lovingly refers to her as "the empress," inspired by the royalty-themed shoot and cover story Oprah starred in.

Oprah and Enninful sat down together for the latest Super Soul podcast episode, where they discussed A Visible Man. The memoir follows Enninful’s journey as a refugee who essentially broke the glass ceiling to become British Vogue’s first Black editor-in-chief. Read on for a few noteworthy moments from their conversation, and watch their entire interview above.

Enninful Opens Up About His Childhood

Enninful shares that he grew up in Ghana as a quiet kid. Enninful’s father was “tough,” which led him to spend a great deal of time with his mother, who consistently created an environment that made him feel safe.

He was raised on a military base in a coastal town where he was surrounded by mostly other Black people, allowing him to view Black as beautiful. In fact, according to Enninful, “the idea of Black not being beautiful was very alien” to him until he made it to England and experienced the culture shock of realizing that Blackness was viewed differently in other parts of the world.

Enninful shares that today, when people meet him and learn of his power in the fashion world, they not only assume he’s from England but they often don’t know the journey he had to take before getting to his position. A Visible Man is his opportunity to paint the full picture of his success.

“I wanted them to see the struggles, not just the highs—the lows,” Enninful says. “I wanted them to know that it is possible, no matter how many people tell you you can’t. It is possible.”

The Impact of His Health Struggles

Enninful was born with a blood disorder called thalassemia and the genetic trait for sickle cell, but he also eventually developed a condition impacting the key part of his body that enables him to do what he loves: his eyes.

“My retinas detached four times,” Enninful says. “I mean, my eye is really, it’s really what I need to survive.”

At the height of struggling with the condition, Enninful had to ask himself: If he couldn’t see the work he dedicates so much time to creating, then who would he be?

The answer to that question is that even while creating using one eye, Enninful is still an impactful visionary, with just a little more reliance on his vast imagination. “When you can't see, you're given something else,” Enninful says. “And I can imagine, when I close my eyes, I can imagine the most beautiful, the most incredible, because I can’t physically see so well.”

His Thoughts on His Duty to the Magazine World

Enniful believes it’s his responsibility to create content that is reflective of “the times we live in,” especially when it comes to the importance of “inclusivity” in their coverage. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Enninful worked on an issue that featured “30 activists, people who were putting their lives on the line just for us.”

“When you go back, stories I’ve done, whether it’s about plastic surgery or Hollywood, it’s about the times we live in,” Enninful says. “For me, that’s when art is art, not just for art’s sake.”

Oprah Asks Enninful to Share His Fashion Favorites–Watch It Here

In this exclusive clip, Enninful tells Oprah the last time he was truly in awe, his greatest luxury, and what will never go out of style.

Catch Up on Other Super Soul Interviews

To listen to more Super Soul podcast episodes, check out this Spotify playlist.

Watch the full conversations on Oprah Daily:

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