Supermodels and an Oscar winner; new Vogue editor’s big-name signings
A fortnight ago, fashion’s glitterati were saluting the enduring legacy of Alexandra Shulman at Vogue. Now her successor as editor is remaking the magazine in his own image – and on Thursday he brought in a series of big names to accelerate the revolution that has already seen several of Shulman’s favourites leave their jobs.
Supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and film director Steve McQueen were among those to lend their names to the dramatic overhaul of Vogue by the new editor, Edward Enninful.
The trio have been named as contributing editors of the fashion magazine. Grace Coddington, the former creative director of American Vogue under Anna Wintour, will also be a contributor.
The appointments come at the end of a tumultuous week for Enninful’s fledgling tenure at Vogue.
As well as the departure of high-profile Vogue veterans, the outgoing fashion director, Lucinda Chambers, gave an explosive interview in which she said she had been fired and that the clothes in the magazine are “irrelevant”.
Enninful is not even due to formally start his role as British Vogue’s first male editor until August. The Ghanian-born former model has been a contributing editor to Italian and American Vogue as well as the creative and style director at W magazine in New York.
He has been friends with Moss and Campbell since they were teenagers and said they have had an “enormous” impact on culture. McQueen directed 12 Years a Slave, which won the best picture Oscar for 2013, while Coddington is a former Vogue model who joined the magazine when she was 19 before moving to New York.
“I am thrilled that Kate, Naomi, Steve and Grace are going to work with us in these new roles,” Enninful said. “As two of the biggest international style influencers and supermodels, the impact Naomi and Kate have in today’s culture is enormous. Being an acclaimed filmmaker and Turner Prize-winning artist, Steve will bring an increased depth to the arts within the magazine.
“Grace’s relationship with Vogue started at a very young age. She has become synonymous with the title and is as much loved in Britain as she is globally. I am very much looking forward to working with these friends and colleagues on their ideas for upcoming issues.”
Enninful is on the hunt for other senior figures to fill roles at Vogue following the departure of several journalists.
Since January, when Shulman announced she was standing down as editor-in-chief after more than 25 years, others have said they are leaving, including Frances Bentley, the managing editor, and Chambers. This week it was confirmed that Emily Sheffield, the deputy editor of British Vogue and the sister of Samantha Cameron, is also going.
Chambers had worked for British Vogue for 36 years, spending the last 25 years as fashion director. This week, she added to a sense that the magazine was in the midst of a major upheaval when she told the online fashion journal Vestoj that she had not read Vogue for years and that a recent front page was “crap”.
Chambers said: “The June cover with Alexa Chung in a stupid Michael Kors T-shirt is crap. He’s a big advertiser so I knew why I had to do it. I knew it was cheesy when I was doing it, and I did it anyway. OK, whatever.
“Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years. Maybe I was too close to it after working there for so long, but I never felt I led a Vogue-y kind of life. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive.
“What magazines want today is the latest, the exclusive. It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful. In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying.”
Venetia Scott will be replacing Chambers as fashion director next week. Scott began her career at British Vogue working under Coddington before moving on to other publications and then becoming a fashion photographer.
On her departure, Chambers told Vestoj: “I don’t want to be the person who puts on a brave face and tells everyone, ‘Oh, I decided to leave the company’ when everyone knows you were really fired. There’s too much smoke and mirrors in the industry as it is.”
Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, said it was usual for an incoming editor to make changes to the team. It said Chambers’ claim that she was fired without the knowledge of Condé Nast management was inaccurate. “Any changes made are done with the full knowledge of senior management,” the company said.
Sheffield said she will leave the magazine after editing the October edition. “After a very happy decade with British Vogue now feels the right time to move on to new challenges,” she said. “I’ll be finishing my time at Vogue House as acting editor of the October issue. I very much look forward to seeing Edward Enninful’s new and exciting vision for Vogue.”