‘Di­ver­sity isn’t just about race ... it’s not of­ten that a woman fea­tures on a cover at fifty’

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

Ed­wardes

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

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