‘Diversity isn’t just about race ... it’s not often that a woman features on a cover at fifty’
are persuading a number of megabrands to return — including Nike — as well as bringing in first-timers such as super cool Palace Skate, and a sponsorship with Pinterest. Amazing though it may sound, Louboutin had never advertised in Vogue (or anywhere) so Kingori persuaded him to do a project around his “nudes” — he has a range for 30 skin tones — to chime with Vogue’s drive for inclusion. Although she wears it lightly, Kingori sees her role as political. She describes herself as “a child of the Windrush” (her mother came to the UK from St Kitts as a nurse aged 17, met her Kenyan father in London, and returned to London when Kingori and her sister were seven and nine). And one thing was always clear: new era Vogue was about diversity and “new frontiers”. Enninful’s first cover featured Adwoa Aboah, a mixed-race London model, and the current cover features Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing model to be used on a cover, as well as nine others from different ethnic backgrounds. Other magazines have followed, but Kingori is wary. “We see this amazing trend to have more diverse faces on covers — and the power of the image is important — but it is only stage one.”
Kingori believes in “true change”: “True change from within that is reflected out.” So, she asks, what’s going on behind the scenes? Are these workplaces diverse? “Could we look at what the narrative is — who is writing the narrative? So it’s not just about the perception of diversity.”
She is quick to point out that “diversity is not just about race. It’s about diversity of perspective, which is also about class”. (This was briefly a raw nerve: in the post-Shulman exodus, there were unattributed quotes saying the new regime was wiping out posh girls).
But it’s also about age. February’s cover with Nicole Kidman was described by one paper as “disappointing”. Kingori doesn’t hide her annoyance. “People said, ‘why is there a white woman on the cover when (Enninful) said there’d be lots of diversity?’ We thought, ‘There is! Nicole Kidman is 50!’ It’s not often that you see a woman of 50 as a cover star.”
Equally, she says, there were those who criticised Enninful’s appointment of Venetia Scott as fashion director. “They said, ‘Oh my God, isn’t she old?’ They thought we’d only have kids from Hoxton with blue hair.”
Scott is “amazing, because she has so many experiences to draw on, anything that’s thrown at her she’ ll know what to do. Younger stars might be drawing on newer experiences and trends that you and I don’t know about. But the combination is stronger than one or the other. Edward said, ‘This is diversity’.”
This is what she loves about him. “He doesn’t mind sticking his neck out, saying, ‘Not everyone will get it but for those who do, it’s going to mean a lot’.”
They are friends. Now they work together, travel together, spend hours on the phone. Enninful is “hilarious”. There is an “Edward fan” in reception every day and last week an entire trolley of flowers arrived as an expression of thanks from a fan who finds new Vogue “makes me feel better about myself ”.
When I ask about reports of his emotional outbursts — he is said to have cried because he was stuck in Milan when Anna Wintour arrived at London Fashion Week with the Queen — she looks sceptical: “I’ve never seen him cry.”
But he is “instinctive”, she says, with a clear vision: “He’s someone who says, ‘I know that is going to work’. This may come across as emotional. But nine times out of 10 when he’s taken those decisions and some of us might have thought, ‘I don’t get that’, he’s been right.”
One model he has featured heavily is