In A Visible Man, Edward Enninful recounts his journey from teen model to the very top of the fashion industry. For a Black, gay and working class immigrant, the trajectory was an improbable one – the stuff of fashion fairytales, almost. Now – thanks in no small part to Enninful’s efforts to champion inclusivity over the past 30 years – the path is clear for countless other creatives from diverse backgrounds.
“An outsider who found his way into the inner sanctum,” is how Ghanaian-born Enninful, British vogue‘s editor-in-chief and vogue‘s European editorial director, describes himself as he reflects on his rise. Despite the front row seats, the A-list inner circle, even the endorsement of the Palace (Enninful was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to the fashion industry, and is a global ambassador for the Prince’s Trust), he has never let go of that unique perspective, nor his determination to always put inclusivity at the heart of his work.
The portrait that appears on the book’s cover – revealed for the first time today – was taken by Rafael Pavarotti, a young Brazilian photographer emblematic of the change-making that has defined Enninful’s career. “Rafael is still in his twenties, but to me he is really a young master,” says the author. “His pictures always lift the race – he just loves Black people. I chose Rafael because he is someone who understood my journey.” Pavarotti, who is passionate about Black and indigenous representation in fashion, previously captured British vogue‘s February 2022 cover. The story spotlighted nine spectacular African models – Adut Akech and Anok Yai among them – whose success reflects the seismic shift that has been unfolding on fashion’s once Eurocentric runways.
Of course, choosing to champion next-generation talent is characteristic of Enninful’s approach. “I wrote the book for the new generation – the young creatives who have watched me grow up, succeed, and make mistakes – so it makes sense for me to be seen through Rafael’s eyes,” he says. For the photographer, who grew up admiring Enninful’s work, being asked to take the portrait was a “great honour”. “I always admired Edward, and after getting to know him better, I realized he is one of the best people I have ever met,” Pavarotti tells vogue. “Both personally and professionally, I learn so much from him. This cover reflects his interior, so beautiful and unique, like this book, which is an extension of his universe.”
A Visible Man will be published around the world in September, towards the end of what has already been a milestone year for Enninful, who last month celebrated his 50th birthday and married his partner, Alec Maxwell. “I’d been asked so many times to write a book, but I always said no,” says Enninful, who began work on the project when the breakneck pace of the fashion world was brought to a halt by the pandemic. “This time, it just felt right. This has been a year of change: turning 50, getting married, and now my book. I’m very excited.”
A Visible Man by Edward Enninful will be published on 6 September 2022 by Penguin Press and Bloomsbury