The cover is perfect: elegant, cool and possessed of a vintage feel that references classic old Vogues. Industry insiders are delighted if unsurprised that the model is Adwoa Aboah, a languorously beautiful 25 year-old activist whose social platform, Gurls Talk, aims to provide a “safe space” for young women to discuss difficult issues such as mental health. For New Vogue, Adwoa is the perfect modern muse. More than Steven Meisel’s photography, Edward Enninful’s styling, Pat McGrath’s makeup and the coverlines that read like a Who’s Who of multi-racial modern Britain (just names. Not a trend or product among them – clever) I love the cover’s stillness. In an age when we’re all hyper-busy, it’s harder then ever to command attention, yet this makes you stop and look.
Which is what all great covers should do, only not very many manage it. Increasingly, magazines fling four cover stars at you, and hope you’ll buy your fave. This is understandable. Magazine sales are in terminal decline. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Edward Enninful’s first Vogue – #NewVogue – is the opposite of desperate. It sings with the assurance of a man who has it all in hand.
What of the inside? The first big change, immediately apparent, is that Enninful’s much-promised diversity has been delivered with a cherry on top. At long last, models of all races gaze back, from the contents page right through to the final fashion shoot. This is wonderful, as is the feature where Naomi Campbell interviews Saddiq Khan. I also love that Enninful has tried his damndest not to ignore everyone living north of Watford. Zayn Malik is interviewed about growing up in Bradford, while socialite Daphne Guinness talks about spending her formative years in the north Midlands and being “very affected by the shutting of the coal mines” –#whoknew? In a feature called Back To My Roots, John Galliano recalls his childhood in South London, Christopher Bailey waxes lyrical about his native Yorkshire and Simone Rocha reminisces about Dublin.
Elsewhere, New Vogue looks not entirely dissimilar to Old Vogue. The first page of editorial features a £1220 pair of Chanel boots. The second, a trend page titled “Pigment Politics”, proves that it’s hard to do captivating fashion headlines whether you are Edward Enninful or Alexandra Schulman. And Vogue wouldn’t be Vogue without a fashion shoot featuring a model called Olympia standing in a forest wearing a £3590 ballgown next to another model - naked - on a cow. Which makes a change from a horse, tbf.
Here’s to a new tradition of inclusivity. After all, diversity means just that: an attempt to represent all races, ages, religions and - yes - all classes
I was surprised at the three-page feature on media impresario Matthew Freud: maybe it had been agreed before Enninful took over, or maybe they are BFFs. Whatever: I don’t really require the editor of Vogue to “pick a side”: a good editor should move freely through all social classes, and those who have previously complained that Enninful is “anti-posh” only need glance at New Vogue to be assured that he most definitely isn’t. After all, there’s a feature about Annabel’s - surely the poshest, most Establishment club in Britain. To redress the balance, there is also a feature about Primark, albeit a paid partnership. I’m curious how intrusive the average reader finds paid partnerships, but like most publications, Vogue has tried hard to give theirs integrity. And really, that’s all you can hope for, since paid partnerships aren’t going to go away.
All in all, this is a lush Vogue, as the Welsh would say. It’s a braw Vogue, as the Scots would say. It’s a fabulous Vogue, as the fasherati would say, if it was 1994. And it’s a peng Vogue, as my born-and-bred-in-London 11 year-old would say, if she didn’t spend most of her spare time on Instagram. “Know where you come from, but be free to make new traditions,” says the standfirst to the fashion section, in what could be a mantra for #NewVogue itself. Here’s to a new tradition of inclusivity. After all, diversity means just that: an attempt to represent all races, ages, religions and - yes - all classes. Vogue can never be all things to all people, but his first issue suggests that Edward Enninful is going to have a bloody good stab at trying to make it so. Buy New Vogue if you like Old Vogue - but also if you don’t.