The future comes for Vogue…and the rest of us

A power struggle is playing out at Vogue

Several things hang in the balance.

  1. The future of a publication that helps construct our sense of taste.
  2. The future of a culture that struggles to remain a culture.

Specifically, this is a struggle between Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour. 

I have been waiting for an insider’s view of the contest, and found one in a brilliant essay by Kara Kennedy in The Spectator..

Enniful took the helm of British Vogue in 2017. He was determined to make Vogue about diversity, disruption, inclusivity, and lots of experiment. He wanted a Vogue that was a champion of women and especially the young.

“disruption is important, because that’s the only way the world can move forward. To the younger generation, I want to say ‘be as fearless as you can and disrupt in your own way.’”

In a word he was fearless. He had no doubt that 

“I’m probably going to get fired for making it inclusive, but at the same time I thought that would be great. Because at least I would have been true to myself.”

As a culture, we are very good at disruption. Even at an institution as important as Vogue

We are so good at disruption that we are now testing the limits of our culture to cohere.

“[Enniful] was always pushing for the next thing that was seen as progressive, but I think the magazine started to lose itself in the process. He was following fads. It was no longer recognizable from the Vogue that he walked into,” a Condé Nast employee told The Spectator

There it is. 

  1. A man called Enniful is determined to transform Vogue even at the cost of his career and the opportunity someday to take the helm at the great fashion publication.
  2. A magazine pushes back, fearful that it will be consumed by fads and politics.

The answer used to be easy. All praise and power to the disruptor. All hail Enniful.

But these days it’s not so simple. However much we value the politics, we are on the verge of “losing” ourselves. We want a “via media”, a middle road, to use the famous phrase of one of the England’s first great fashion icons, Elizabeth I.

Who’s going to build it? 

Thanks to: Kennedy, Kara. “Was Edward Enninful’s Vogue Too ‘Woke’ for Wintour?” The Spectator World (blog), June 8, 2023.

Originally published on Substack.

Image created on Midjourney on Discord.