Edward Enninful was born in Ghana, but at a very young age, moved to Ladbroke Grove, London, along with his parents and five siblings. His mother worked as a seamstress, and inspired him with the vividly patterned colors and fabrics she used while creating clothing for her British-Ghanaian friends.
At the age of 16, Enninful was spotted on the train by stylist Simon Foxton. "I was 16 and I had no idea who Simon Foxton was," he said in an interview for Telegraph Magazine. "About two weeks later I was stopped again, this time by a model scout. When I told her that I'd already been approached by Simon Foxton, she told me how amazing he was and weeks later I was shooting with him at his house, along with Nick Knight, a founder-photographer of i-D."
Enninful described his brief career modeling as his "baptism into fashion". By the age of 17, he had been introduced to Trish and Terry Jones, founder of i-D magazine, and soon began assisting i-D fashion director Beth Summers. He finished college, earning a degree at Goldsmiths, University of London ("Barely, but otherwise my dad would have killed me.") while juggling his modeling career and assisting on shoots with Foxton and Summers. Summers left the magazine a few weeks after Enninful's 18th birthday, and Terry Jones gave Enninful the position.
At the age of 18, Enninful's position as fashion director at i-D made him the youngest ever fashion director for an international publication. Soon, he became known for his edgy elegance, which quickly became his trademark. Much of his inspiration came from the streets. "We British have to customize our clothes, we have to be more creative, informing who you are—and I am still obsessed with the streets." The looks he featured in his stories helped fuel the grunge movement during the early 1990s.
For the March 2009 issue, Enninful styled "The Best British" cover story by photographer Sølve Sundsbø. The issue printed 12 separate covers, each featuring one of twelve British super models, including Jourdan Dunn, Kate Moss, Susie Bick, Naomi Campbell, Stella Tennant, Eliza Cummings, Alice Dellal, Daisy Lowe, Twiggy, Yasmin Le Bon, Lily Donaldson, and Agyness Deyn.
In 1998, Enninful became a contributing editor to Italian Vogue. According to him, working with Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel propelled him to mature as a stylist. "I always say that I was a London stylist but when I worked with Steven, I became a proper stylist."
At Italian Vogue, he spearheaded the production of its "Black Issue", which featured only black models, including Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Alek Wek. He described his intention as ending the "white-out that dominates the catwalks and magazines". The issue was so successful that Condé Nast had to print an extra 40,000 copies.
It was announced in April 2011 that Enninful would be taking over as fashion and style-director of W, a position formally held by Alex White. He stated in an interview to WWD, "Now I'm going to be focusing my editorial prowess on W," ending his 10-year relationship as a freelancer with American and Italian Vogue. Under Enninful's direction, W generated considerable attention for its riskier editorial, including the March 2012 cover shot by Steven Klein featuring Kate Moss depicted as a nun, as well as another cover featuring singer Nicki Minaj dolled up as an 18th-century French courtesan. And for the magazine's November 2011 art issue, Enninful collaborated with Steven Meisel on a series of fake advertisements that ran throughout the magazine, including one that featured drag queen contestant from RuPaul's Drag Race named Carmen Carrera hawking a fictitious fragrance called La Femme ("Isn't W Magazine the cleverest in all the land?" the fashion blog styleite wrote).
While the magazine was suffering in 2010, amid a brutal recession and competition from V Magazine and Interview Magazine, W began showing signs of life after Enninful's takeover. The magazine's ad pages went up 16.7 percent by May 2012, with 453 pages compared to 388 pages for the same period the year before, according to Media Industry Newsletter—the biggest year-over-year gain among fashion titles. Editorial Director Stefano Tonchi told The New York Times that Enninful was a big part of that success.
Advertising / Consultation
By the age of 22, Enninful worked for Calvin Klein on their advertising with Craig McDean and close friend, makeup artist Pat McGrath. To date, he has consulted for numerous advertising campaigns and runway shows, including Comme des Garçons, Christian Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Celine, Lanvin, Mulberry, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Jil Sander, Calvin Klein, Fendi, Alessandro Dell'Acqua, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Missoni.
- Clio Excellence in Commercial Styling Award (5 May 2015)
- British Fashion Awards Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator (1 December 2014)
- BRAG Business Achievement Award (20 October 2014)
- White House Fashion Education Workshop (October 8, 2014)
- New York Urban League's Frederick Douglass Medallion Award (7 May 2014)
- National Magazine Feature Photography Award 2013: "Good Kate, Bad Kate" by Steven Klein (2 May 2013)
- The Black Alumni of Pratt Celebration of the Creative Spirit Award (20 June 2012)
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- "i-D Magazine March 2009 : The Best Of British", DesignScene, 10 February 2009.
- "Edward Enninful - Biography". Art + Commerce. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- Amy Odell, "Franca Sozzani Hopes the Three Plus-Size Models on the Cover of Italian Vogue Make the Industry Reconsider Its Obsession With Teenagers", NY Mag, 6 June 2011.
- "The September Issue". IMDB. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- Turner, Zeke (27 April 2011). "Memo Pad". Women's Wear Daily.
- Jacob Bernstein (16 May 2012). "An Image Maker Who Gets the Picture". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- Will Self, "Good Kate, Bad Kate", W, March 2012.
- James Lim, "Nicki Minaj Lands W Magazine’s Alternate November Cover", NY Mag, 14 October 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2016.