Sorting Through the Edward Enninful Rumors
The media narrative has framed his exit from the editor's chair at British Vogue as a rivalry between him and Anna Wintour.
A quick note before today’s story, which concerns the machinations of Vogue. If that’s something you’re interested in (I trust you’re nodding vigorously), you are sure to enjoy the Killed podcast’s episode concerning one of the most controversial stories Anna Wintour ever published, the March 2011 profile of Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad. I spoke to journalist Justine Harman about how this story ended up in print. Check it out here.
It didn’t take long for what Condé Nast described as a “promotion” for Edward Enninful to be interpreted by many press reports as, well, not that. The summer Friday timing of the announcement also did not prevent gossip about the news from spiraling to the most predictable narrative: that Enninful’s new “advisory” role is the result of a long-brewing rivalry with his boss, Anna Wintour, who oversees content for all of Condé Nast. (Really, all that timing did was ensure a niche of writers, editors, and producers would work the weekend.)
The gossip may have shades of truth in it, but I’m skeptical of some of the recent reports. First, multiple outlets wrote that Enninful had talked about moving to New York. But in January, he was looking at homes to purchase in Holland Park, someone with knowledge of his thinking told me. This would suggest that he was making longterm plans to be in London rather than to move overseas. He’s also a global ambassador for King Charles’s charity, the Prince’s Trust. His life, in other words, seems to very much be in London.
People who work or have worked for Enninful seem to adore him, and praise the vision of diversity he brought to life in the magazine’s pages. He has been very much engaged with his staff and with his British Vogue work, but had become harder to pin down on decisions relating to longterm projects. This seems to indicate that transitioning Enninful to this new advisory role wasn’t exactly a sudden move.
The Daily Mail reported that Enninful threatened to leave by the end of last year if he didn’t get Anna’s job. The Sunday Times reported that he even raised editing American Vogue with Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch, and that neither he nor Anna were open to to Enninful’s idea to make the magazine gender-neutral.
I don’t doubt that Enninful might have wanted Anna’s job. Think of how many people over the years have wanted (and still want) Anna’s job. I also don’t doubt that he and Anna had a frosty relationship — because she has frosty relationships with so many people.