Only Edward Enninful could secure glowing endorsements from the likes of Donatella Versace, Miuccia Prada, Salman Rushdie, and Idris Elba for his literary debut. (It almost goes without saying that his longtime BFFs Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell are also on the list.) The first Black and male editor-in-chief of British Vogue and former creative fashion director of this very magazine, Enninful is immensely popular—in part because he’s also immensely influential. But as detailed in his memoir—which he sums up as “a boy from Ghana making his way in a racist, classist industry”—getting to where he is now wasn’t easy. Below, he shares why he decided to open up and what pop culture he’s been consuming lately in his Culture Diet.
The title of your memoir, A Visible Man, is clever on multiple levels.
It came from a number of things. When you’re Black, you’re gay, you’re working-class, you’re a refugee—you’re literally meant to be invisible. My whole life has been about making myself visible, making myself seen. The irony is that I have very bad sight, very bad vision—but [having] a vision and creating imagery is my world.
I know that you aren’t normally a nostalgic person. And yet, there’s so much detail in the book that I felt sure you must keep a diary or journal.
Funnily enough, I’ve never really journaled—the stuff I store in my head is incredible. [Laughs.] I’m blessed with a very good memory. If you and I decided to spark up a conversation years ago, I can remember it, and people are always shocked. Of course sometimes I will keep notes, but a lot of the time, I don’t. Mostly, I remember what needs to be remembered.
In the preface, you say that you were “a little bit frightened” to write the book. Was that related to, as they say, calling people out?
No, I just wasn’t really prone to revealing much about my life. Everyone saw me as the editor of British Vogue or i-D or W. Then I thought it was something to let the next generation know, that when you see people at a certain level of what you classify as “success,” there’s always a story. I just really wanted to share my story to help people who are suffering with illnesses or personal trauma—anybody who never felt like they belonged—to say, “Hey, I’ve felt that too.”
You have amazing connections with names like Kate Moss and Meghan Markle. How do you balance making use of them and championing the up-and-comers you clearly value?
We have days in the office when young photographers come in, and we keep our eye on young stylists. I have a young team who are so connected in the world, and I also try to always stay connected. I’m not one of those editors that has to wait for people to bring me information. I’m very curious. I’m on every social platform you can think of—I just joined TikTok. [Laughs.] So I really love to discover things for myself as well as having a team who are really hungry for information and knowledge.
Getting into the Culture Diet questions, what’s the first thing you read in the morning?
[Sighs.] Emails, usually from the office. Then I do the New York Times, the papers, all of that. But first thing is emails.
Are you an inbox zero person?
Oh, no, no, no—people keep their inboxes at zero? [Laughs.] I didn’t know that. Mine is a disaster. I’m sure I’m at 50,000 or something.
What TV show has been keeping you up at night?
Surface on Apple TV, with my friend Gugu Mbatha-Raw. There are six episodes so far, so I’ve got two to go.
Have you been to the movie theater recently?
I have, and I saw a movie that’s so incredible—Everything Everywhere All at Once. I’m obsessed with the idea of multiverses and how one action leads to another. I loved it; I loved it.
What’s the last concert you went to?
Afrobeats, by Wizkid. It was the first one I went to after lockdown.
What about podcasts?
Oprah’s Super Soul, and Talk Art by my friend Russell Tovey. And Meghan [Markle] sent me hers the other day. I’m very proud of her—very proud of what she’s doing, and for women.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
I love following Naomi [Campbell], Rihanna, and Daniel Kaluuya; they’re always fun. And Kristen McMenamy is one of my favorites—a real original. She lives in London, so we go to a climbing class together.
What magazines are always on your radar?
Well, Vogue of course. [Laughs.] I read W. And I tend to read a lot of independent magazines to see what the younger generation is doing. I still read i-D—just sort of my background. I look at The Face, I look at Dazed—it reminds me of when I was growing up in London in the ‘90s.
How large is your magazine collection?
Huge. [Laughs.] Huge. I’ve got shelves of them here, and then a storage [unit] where I keep some as well.
Do you ever revisit them?
Yes, actually. But it’s so easy online. There are certain issues you can’t find online, like old Italian Vogue’s and stuff that I have to dig up. The fact is, I never kept any of those when I worked there, so now I keep trying to find them back.
What’s 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 in that, but no, I don’t. I’d just rather face the day and have a part in shaping 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. The minute your mind starts to wander, you say your mantra over and over and it brings you back every time. And the more you do it, the more you stay in the zone. It’s the only one that’s worked for me all these years.
What’s your mantra?
Um, it’s secret—you’re not allowed to share it!