Incoming editor Chioma Nnadi is decidedly less political than her predecessor
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.