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British Vogue’s virtue-signalling may be coming to an end

Chioma Nnadi may be a steadying influence after the radicalism of the Enninful era. Credit: Getty

September 20, 2023 - 6:30pm

The mystery of British Vogue‘s high-stakes succession was solved this week after it was announced that Chioma Nnadi will replace Edward Enninful as the magazine’s new head. 

That’s not to say she will become Editor-in-Chief, for the new role carries an implicit lowering of status. Instead, meet the “head of editorial content”. The decision to rescind independence of the British publication was met with general groans and is viewed as a coup engineered by Anna Wintour who, rumour has it, wishes to bring all editions in line with her vision.

If enacting Wintour’s law on British soil is Nnadi’s assignment, then she is likely to succeed. She comes straight out of Wintour’s New York office, where she has been a loyal mainstay. What’s more, she is well positioned to deliver on Wintour’s rule of “all platforms – all the time”, as she’s been the editor of the magazine’s digital flagship since 2020. 

More lowkey than the gregarious Enninful, Nnadi is unlikely to seek out the limelight. Enninful came to Vogue as a social media personality, while his successor had less than 60,000 followers on Instagram at her time of appointment. Where Enninful was busy promoting himself at the expense of Vogue, Nnadi has an “impeccable reputation” that we can assume means she does what her bosses ask. In short, the focus will return firmly to the brand, away from the person. 

Enninful was dogged in his pursuit of social barriers to tear down, placing diversity at the centre of his statement issues. These editions, which were intended to spark viral moments with every release, mimicked the frantic pace of woke hysterias and the hype surrounding cult brands on social media. Although he raised the profile of British Vogue, his approach was sliding into the uninspiring one-note of all diversity-led projects. Then there were “progressive” moves that led to widespread outrage, such as featuring transgender cyclist Emily Bridges on Vogue’s list of “Powerhouse Women”. 

Left-wing liberals will no doubt argue that he was ousted by secret fascists in the Vogue organisation. What is more likely is that readers became bored of his shtick. We might take his departure as a good omen, a sign that overt virtue-signalling is no longer the cutting-edge of fashion. The more discreet Nnadi says simply that she cares about “women’s issues”.

While audiences might be tired of having politics rammed down their throat, the mainstream media insists on the assault. The Guardian, among other outlets, makes much of Nnadi being the first female black editor, but after six years of hearing how special Enninful was for his appointment as the first male black editor, this feels like the ghost of news stories past. 

Given that British Vogue’s longtime publishing director and now chief business officer Vanessa Kingori is also black, it doesn’t feel that remarkable to have diversity at the top. This normalisation ought to be welcomed, and one hopes we’ll soon move past the point where an employee’s ethnicity, rather than their talent, makes the headlines. 

But if Nnadi has been brought in as a neutralising force, she won’t be able to flex her creativity. Wintour might be savvy enough to pull the plug on Enninful’s politicised content, but this in no way signifies a return to the heyday of Vogue

Traditionally, it was a magazine that traded on exclusivity, on being the best of the best. To survive in the contemporary publishing landscape, Vogue needs to appeal to as broad an audience as possible and chase those pesky clicks. This means the radical elements will be softened down into the same blandified, celeb-driven content (not journalism) that has mushroomed across the magazine’s many online presences. In this sense, it’s a case of Vogue is dead, long live Vogue.


Nina-Sophia Miralles is the editorial director of culture magazine LONDNR, and the author of Glossy: The Inside Story of Vogue

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Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
10 months ago

Enninful used Vogue as his personal cultural crusade. It was always going to be time limited before people tired of being lectured in right thinking. They aspire to its style, not EDI.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
10 months ago

Enninful didn’t just push a woke agenda. He employed talentless individuals like ‘photographer’ Rafael Pavarotti (though a notch up on Brooklyn Beckham), Naomi Campbell as a writer, and Meghan Markle as a ‘guest’ editor. These devalue very skilled professions.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
10 months ago

Boring b*tches wear ridiculous frocks.

Who cares really ?

starkbreath
starkbreath
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Sad, sad people who fantasize about being boring b*tches wearing ridiculous frocks.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago

Nobody reads Vogue, and haven’t for decades. That’s the only reason a no-necked, talentless gnome got the editor gig in the first place. Wintour et al could look down from their lofty, long-secured aeries and say look at how enlightened and egalitarian we are. In the meantime, their ad rag was ignored – if they even knew it existed – by everyone under age fifty.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

Is there an alternative to Vogue? London shops stock all sorts of interesting fashion magazines but they’re prohibitively expensive. It was great to see some real provocation in one, but the price made my jaw drop.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
10 months ago

Agreed. Just to add that Vogue rode along with some very talented designers and photographers (Christobal Balenciaga, Helmut Newton etc), who gave it a timeless style, rather than the throw away ‘fashion’ it has since become. Images over the last few years, not only in Vogue UK, but also the French and Italian versions, come from the School of Instagram and YouTube.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago

I worked in the advertising department at Bloomingdale’s flagship store on E. 59th in the very early 80s, when Halston was still a force, albeit a dying one. One day, my co-worker and I, having just come back from a morning shoot for the Christmas catalogue at Scavullo (cocaine and champagne for models at 10am – not an egg or piece of toast in sight), we were riding the elevator back up to the ad garret with Halston and CEO Marvin Traub. She and I were escorting a $25,000 fur coat. The two men pawed the coat, talked about how it would be the star of the catalogue (it was). Ruth and I weren’t there to either of them. We were, effectively, coat hangers.

I relate this anecdote because the women we worked for/with were no different from Halston and Traub. I left that job and worked for an ad agency on Park Avenue, where I hired models (some most would recognize) and styled photo shoots. I quickly woke up to the sheer odiousness of the industry – the abuse, the starvation, the drugs, the pimping.

I sincerely hope that Anna Wintour and her ilk will meet the fate they so dishonorably deserve.

Last edited 10 months ago by Allison Barrows
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

I could care less.

ANON ANON
ANON ANON
10 months ago

couldn’t (for UK readers)

Last edited 10 months ago by ANON ANON
Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
10 months ago
Reply to  ANON ANON

But he said he could

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
10 months ago

And again .

Yawn.

Luckily, you can’t demonetisation me.

It’s the other way round.

starkbreath
starkbreath
10 months ago

Where does a vapid, celebrity fellating fashion rag like Vogue get off telling people what to think, anyway?

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
10 months ago

Cancelled again; maybe I’m about to be ejected from the Unherd ‘community ‘ which is about as real as the LGBTQWERTY community.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
10 months ago

Ooooherrrr. Cancelled again.
Would you rather I just cancelled my subscription?

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
10 months ago

And again.