« Desert Island Discs

Edward Enninful, editor

2023-01-01 | 🔗
Edward Enninful is the editor-in-chief of British Vogue and the editorial director of Vogue in Europe. Edward was born in the port city of Takoradi in Ghana in 1972. His father was a major in the Ghanaian army and, following a period of political instability, the family fled the country and settled in London. Edward’s interest in fashion dates back to his childhood in Ghana when he watched his seamstress mother at work making dresses for clients including the President’s wife. As a teenager in London he was spotted by the stylist Simon Foxton and began modelling for the irreverent fashion magazine i-D. At 18 Edward became the magazine’s fashion director, the youngest person ever to hold this post at an international fashion title. In 2017 Edward became editor-in-chief of British Vogue and since his appointment he has championed inclusivity and diversity. His cover stars have included Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey and he recently featured the first man – actor Timothée Chalamet. Edward was awarded an OBE for services to diversity in the fashion industry in 2016. He married his partner Alec Maxwell this year and they live in London with their dog Ru. DISC ONE: Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu by Alhaji K Frimpong DISC TWO: Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil DISC THREE: Strange Fruit by Nina Simone DISC FOUR: Back to Life by Soul II Soul DISC FIVE: Ex-Factor by Lauryn Hill DISC SIX: Stars of Track & Field by Belle and Sebastian DISC SEVEN: Peru by Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran DISC EIGHT: Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary by Rihanna BOOK CHOICE: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson LUXURY ITEM: A pair of embroidered slippers CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Strange Fruit by Nina Simone Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
BBC sounds music radio, podcasts, hello, I'm Lauren Laverne, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guests to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they'd want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island- and for rights reasons them it is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening. I my cousin. May this week is edward and in full the editor in chief of british. Folk and the editorial director of food in europe is the first man
Hu, the post and the first black editor invokes one hundred year history across any of its twenty six international titles under his leadership the magazine has champion diversity and encouraged writers models. Designers of all backgrounds and experiences to tell us stories in its pages. His mission was to provide not aspiration but inspiration in his words for every woman to be able to find themselves in the magazine. His love of fashion goes back to his childhood in ana, where his father was a major in the army, and his mother was a dressmaker. She was, he says his role model as a child. He sat by her sewing machine filling note books with designs for elaborate gowns much to his father's disapproval, wedding the teenager political turmoil forced the family to relocate to london. There he was It is a model which opened his eyes to fashion and all its possibilities here. Does a magazine stylist before taking on his first editorial role at just eighteen, but this
it is success like a true trendsetter is focus remains firmly on what comes next. He says I still feel like I'm at the beginning. I feel a fire of something new staying stagnant, that's terrifying, We therefore welcome today's island discs. Oh thank you so much for having me such an honour to be here when it's a pleasure to have you I'm. So, let's start with editing, because Is it an ever evolving ever changing role? What part of being an editor? Do you find the most rewarding? I mean and when you gonna shoot, you know you get firm in the beginning, is what I call the search trying to find the image you trying to play with hair, make and then, when the moment happens, when you like this is the character. This is where we're going there. Now thing like I always starts with a character for you. I was account two years from the yellow emma years ago, go to paris and see the shows and they'll be address, and most scientists will take that dress and create a store, and I just couldn't
and I realize that you know I like a narrative, so I had to have a character where they lived. That became the location and then close. Were the last three may result in a story? You ve said that that fashion, can be a brilliant place to hide. What did you mean by that? I was told- growing up in my glass, so my afro, so you know I can produce images, really strong images that can contribute to changing the world, whether it's about diversity- whether its shining, a lie or numb people have been other whatever. It's so important. I can just be quiet in the background. really let the world see what I can do Would you describe your own style, a remarkable I list I never wanted to be the focus just wake up, important something black and to this day,
If you know more or less, the seminar were a little bit of blue a little bit of white, but it's so I don't stand out. I think you'll start my own little bits to your father's at his life. He will dark colors a lot didn't he used to love to the phoenix sweaters grey pants, just really classic, and I look at my son or comrade. I look like my dad with my moustache as well and he had a moustache. So it's time for your first disk what're, you gonna still with it's a goddamn high life song called ciampi adam. I will biological shrimp on one of the good. Been gone I'll, be with my mother. My mother was an incredible seamstress and watching all these incredible women come in all different shapes and sizes. this sum will be playing in the background and say reminds me of really happy days, and I remember my dad, who was very strict one of the few times where he let his head down was you'd have
France will gather around in our lounge, and my brothers would dance for him to the sun and they'll be drinking, harm wine and it was such a great memory. the the the janshah and be removed by our hard uk for imports so edward end in failure. Born in the port city of technorati in Ghana. Nineteen. Seventy two- and it was your mother grace who ignited your interest in fashion,
He didn't. I mean my mother and I was a scene, a meme designer essentially, and she had a metallic with forty apprentices. She call them and every they was magical. Every day was sketching with her watching women get through were still african dresses headscarf through the sky, tiny wave, those incredible color, combinations, oranges and green and I just love just watching my mother work and what you know these incredible women black women just come in now, and I think that really something formed my style and, as I can tell when a woman is happy. How can you tell I can just took a little winkle of them Oh, so our little intense look in the eye, but I learned all that from my mother. She took you along defeating events of fatigue. What did you do? I will go to the presidential pilots cause. She was friends with the first lady and I was obsessed with my mom's side. I was.
and her out, I didn't want to be more than a fee away from this world opened out this world. That was fashion. I didn't even know what it was all the time, but I knew Khloe, I loved cloves and my letter sketches sort of my note pass. I should courage and to encourage me to dream. So this sounds like a real contrast that well, you were enveloped in with your mother to your father's. Well, she was as a major in the army. In the ghanaian army, a father crosby, what sort of parent was he? My father was a disciplinarian. He didn't quite know what to do with me. You know my sketches I'll have to hide them when I saw him and I was very soft socket. I think that's what really happened to a lot of access. Alot of gay kids. You know You don't know what you are, but you kind of sense, this, a def different you set your dad was a disciplinarian, so we would,
physically punished as it can. Finally, when I remember you, you hold your hand and slap phobia emphasis. Hostile women who slept the kids in the hands of my brothers was okay. I will just do it just be a couple of fascism. What about? But for me it was so d because I didn't feel of did anything wrong. I never went out to play. I never you know. All I did was like a lineup stones and be the teacher and I'll teach the stones and I'll give you know they. Ve been detention and they'll be performing. That's all I ever did so. Yes, I was a little yeah it's a little sensitive, accurate, we're going to have sumo music. This is your second choice today. What if he had gone full unwind? Oh my god, song to the siren by this mortal coil. The singer was Elizabeth fraser from cocteau twins, who I was obsessed with, and you know was a time of mtv. It was this new world that
just so magical the when you just arrived in london yeah just arrived in london in the home of the queen, the home of boy. George, you I do you know I worshiped pussy was gay and just you know, every leaf from the harsh reality of Margaret thatcher's. Eighty you know when you left the house, he was stopped and searched in the bricks and riots. So mtv was so great for me in Elizabeth phrases. Voice was just so to call the zoo is saying
so to the siren, this mortal coil so We then in full, your father was an army major, as you mentioned, so he lived on military bases when you were growing up, one was called burma camp. What do you remember about living there? sir, I remember there was a hail and on the hill, the worthy sticks and every weekend somebody would be much if you people be marched up past of covered with sacking n
essentially be executed, but we were so young, so we ve been working on sundays fiery scott day and it's funny what because acceptable as a child. You didn't you know malady wait. Death with Burma cover my mother didn't go us out of their so far, but you know that was part of growing up, always firing squad day. So you know I was a fair if indeed it last later, as you say, you were you know at that age. What have you go growing up in your normal, but for looking back you know it was this hugely politically volume I'll time in garner. In the early eighties, an annual doubts life was was actually endanger, so so by nineteen. Eighty five m he'd made the decision to seek asylum in london. You lived with your, I think my involving looks onto bedrooms and like six kids, what we are really impression. Oh my gods, I remember turned to my brethren summa cortisol white people. I we need
I seen so many white people in our lives. Ghana, we were the majority, everybody was black. You know. Lawyers, doctors, the president and so coming to england was different. We went from essentially being a middle class family to being having anything less and going to school. In fact, solemn being called names like bull, it was a real carter shock was our mental illness in class. I teach a safe on the night to the black kids, like all, don't worry about them, then of an amount to anything. But for me that was so strange because I, like I seneca, the country with doctors, lawyers, everybody sort of in that you know the social ladder and it was really shocking. So a teacher said, that's guess about the kids, You knew you black kids were not. Maybe you didn't want to study or It's a bit loud and yeah literally gave up on them. So I remember even from my hs thinking, I will never give up on people who need help. Your father couldn't work,
which was because of his status as an asylum seeker. He wasn't allowed to work for three years, so it's a what was life like for you and living in your aunt's flat. You were all quite quite come with six of arthur was my aunt and her two kids. but I remember be so happy squashed into those two rooms in vauxhall watching top of the pops reading smash hits number one magazine. I was soaking in everything when I say soaking in culture beauty. It was like willy wonka was facing it's invisible, music, but you're going to hear me, and why next we're going to hear strange fruit, binding simone, my school was predominantly black an asian- and I remember, hearing the song in music class and listen to the words. And it was the first time I realized- that being black Lee was was difficult and that wasn't the sense that you grown up with in Ghana. It wasn't
yeah, you you came to the song that my father would play and I didn't really understand the thought of the american experience. I didn't understand about slavery and it wasn't until I heard it again in london and analyze the words that it made sense. Seven three. The baron schrute blood on the leaves and blood at the rooms.
Black bodies, when, in the stuff that Nina Simone and strange fruit, edward and in full by nineteen eighty eight, your family, moved into a council house in upper grove west london one morning on your way to judge by cheap. You met someone who you ve, said more than anyone else changed the course of your life. I think you have flick interior fashion magazine daydreaming. Who was he and what happened? I was staring at me. I remember from hammersmith all the way to baker street and I was so innocent. I was so naive. I thought I had done something wrong and then the baker street got up and said his name was simon fox, then that he was I list for magazine called idea in another one: could arena and what I model a model. Ok,. So I went home and I told mom I should have a card and she
I said no, no, no, not that business is full of funny people whatever that meant. What did that mean? This is Gabriel so, but you know I wore her down. We I just wouldn't stop and then eventually she called Simon, and I was on a shoe a week later and that really opened up the fashion world. Did you raise it with your dad? Did you that know We don't know, we didn't tell him no okay, so this was a. This was a you and your mom projects strictly and my my siblings. What was it like? So you you find your way to this shoot or just to take my top off and sort of lay under a tree crawling with ants, but I was so happy I wouldn't complain and somehow in front of the camera. I just feel so confident I wasn't so shy anymore. You started goldsmiths university ran this time. Act would be decided to dropouts to concentrate on your fashion work. I did not go down with your
I remember going home and my dad asked him about college and having the courage to finally say I am I don't want to go. Yeah I've been leaving certificate to your life. How did he react? Oh yeah out came the clothes out the window, the bike shorts, the coffee hum hamlet boots. He he threw out. He came from can't you wait was being academic, was the be all and end all so he didn't know the media was no. What fashion was so? I think- and I looking back- I think he was. He was scared and in this big bang,
Well, then, I went and moved to moved in with my cousin, Michael in east london. Did he try and contact your dad at that? At any point, a make up? No I kept saying to myself. I will never go back home. Failure is not an option. I can pretty much have been so young, a teenager, and knowing that I didn't want to give my father the satisfaction of thinking that I'd failed or didn't succeed, we'll find out What happened next to the minute, professed, I think, we'd better, have some music edward? What's your extract back to life by so too so it really was. When I was asked this, I was feeling myself at that point. I had a gang and I was a model I was q and
Would go to covent garden: do not wear africa centre. Anybody clubbing was my life, so the africa centuries wet so to solar facility, so always slayer air, and there was the perfect place to be and actors spelt like I really belonged. In london
So too. So back to nice edward, an input when you just eighteen, you were appointed andy magazines fashioned director, so you, the youngest peasant avenue this post at an international fashioned title. This is ninety ninety one. So the mainstream was all about height of grammar, but you will have to something different. I think we just wanted to show reality which has brought about a market come to market secondhand clothes. You know we wanted to shoot each other and flats, but also discovered earlier one that there were these incredible women that they were calling the soup models. So I thought I d had to be the one that sort of representing them and with all the same age, so kind of being themselves when, like my army would literally
buy food for us because you just get off a plane from Steven meisel shoot and she'll be in the back of a van. That's all we could afford changing in the back of a fine, so this is naomi campbell, your lifeline for my life. Let's say you are changing in the back of the van for idea, but it wasn't just naomi was Linda was one of them. I mean. Obviously you were enjoying an incredible social life at this time having tons of fun. The club culture in london was incredibly vibrant, but will you take full advantage honor on the kind of drink and drugs from a god I mean. Basically, we were like out every night drinking, and then you know when you and your twitter, you can do that, not sleep, you know and then eventually further to take his tall and dumb sorry, my early thirties, I decided,
I didn't want to drink anymore. What was the turning point where? What, when Rita, had a had a party at my house and I dunno just left, went somewhere else? Came back and my possible had been stolen and I had a styling gig in italy to sell the daughter, cabana men's show and it didn't have a possible- and I remember, going to the embassy
c with a bottle of vodka. In my back pocket thinking that was okay and then Yonah from then on. I decided not got the show three days later or something and the minute it started to affect my work cause before you know nothing affected my work. I could step on that and still do the job at hand. You know because I've been thought that in know black people to say to you, you have to work ten times as hard to get anywhere so so long as my worked and suffer, but the one time it suffered, I decided to stop drinking it's time to move music with the next track. My fifth songs, Lauren hale x, factor from the incredible album the miseducation of Lauryn hill. At this point, I've been at iD I was on list. President director, I really so have come into my stride. America had come cooling and learned. He'll really represented a new freedom,
so so. Maggie and we
the ordeal and expected edward n full? In twenty seventeen? You were approached by Jonathan new house, the chief executive of contain asked to apply for the job of editor in chief at british folk to the surprise of some fashion, commentators and yourself. I think I was even thinking about it, because I thought I'm never going to get this job because, let's face it, it's for middle to upper class white women. I didn't realize that Jonathan's plan really was to sort of take folk into a new decade, and I thought you know I'm going back home I'd been living in america for a while, I'm going back home they're going to love me. Oh my god, england, the country,
oh boy, I was the black sheep I was, then they hardly look at that got into cross cities. Are these things that mobile actually road? So there was an article in one of the newspaper? Isn't it intervenes only someone else, you'd interviewed for the job, I think they'd said we feel like we ve ended crofton the cat warrior and the current one he felt those comments were able to feel it was rated. There was races yeah, but can you can You know one point I was you know I was always o the black. She was always gannon born, which means you know. Just you know, sir. Away that I'm not white the ducks going to crushed by the caught. One like I was the son of a bitch it all together, and you know I remember cordin if
friend of mine, you mail me again and she'd been through this house and the amount of Adam. She suggests, don't read it, but I just knew that the first issue I was creating such a love letter to britain. It was a love letter to the country that took my family in the country. That literally gave me alive. So my first issue, of course, was a love letter to great britain and that's what it was. It was article eighteen. This is vision if british nice, that really can Set the course ahead, where you were going to take the magazine. Tell me about that direction of travel. What was the original vision? I mean I remember sort of looking around at my friends and seeing that the one reflected in the magazine when I send my friends, I mean people of different races. Religions are blogger, hocking on social economy. Background size, age, the one in the magazine and for me I just thought: that's not even good business, so I just wanted to create a magazine that was inclusive and magazine. That was about diversity, where every woman would see themselves
and that was it that was really the month. The manifesto I had twenty seventeen, nobody wanted it do, you feel, like you, will in the charge them and I know twenty seventeen, nobody wanted it and I also I always say I knew what I was going to do, but I was also not scared. I set a friend of mine, I'm sure I'll be fine in three months, but I would rather be fired what I believe to so went in with that- and you know the whole world embraced it and now diversity is know what that's used every day, ass part of everyday, language, but I just really just wanted to show how incredible women,
and where, in all of the different guises added it's time for disc number six. What are we going to hear next and why are you taking it to the island? Today? I always loved a song by belle and Sebastian. I had a musician partner, so he really influenced me where pop music was concerned and yeah belle and sebastian stars of track and field the train and then saw that the balance of bass
in an stars of track and field, edward and in full, ivo, give champion diversity and inclusive at sea in all of its forms: color size, age, gender. You recently put the first man on the cover timothy shallow may, but what about financial inclusive as he, because, obviously you know we're in the middle of a cost to live in crisis and and clothes costing thousands and thousands of pounds and obviously don't reflect reality for for most people, isn't that a problem so nervous took what sort of including people from social, economic backgrounds, the cost of living. We have to really take this very seriously there s a recession coming. I practice evokes something called by better by less by that one peace, so you're not
if they're, buying something new every week go back to what we did when we were kids, you know if you can afford, what's in their creative use, second and pieces mix and match I mean you know, I grew up poor as we've we've discussed and I would go to jumble sales, secondhand stores and that's how I was able to dress myself at whittier. He continued to speak out and to use your platform to talk about your own personal experiences of racial profiling, which which have been throughout your career. One recent example is particularly shocking. Does it happened it phone cows that the home of the magazine that ye run? What do you call about incidents? I mean I remember, you know it was an lockdown everybody. Everybody was sort of lost and and we're going back to the office. I went back to the affair, send those a lady sort of our reception, a security guard and ass. I walked in and she walked towards me and she just through shooter.
It took me to the loading bay and I was like excuse me, and she just assumed. I guess because I was black that belonged, the loading bay but, like I said you know, I'm a black person living in in the world today was not the first time and I won't be the last time, but the great thing of the I can do something about it, so young the young generation, don't have to go through that and feel power. Less or helpless, and I did something about you put out. Our social me. Media is the ground just to let people know that even my level, I still have to go through that, and it was ok because it keeps me grounded. That moment was very crucial to let the world know that I still face this but I will do something about it. It's time, sumo, music, edwards. What have you got for us next, peru by fire boy de l and at Shirin I'm upset after being, is more than just music, it's almost like, growing up in a country that was so.
Removed from where I am really in this music that have carried with him in my so that coolness now use it music in the wrong one No one will know when you got one when you name too poor to buy a level when parry I find the idea now and achieving edward and in full. You ve suffered from retinal detachments over the years and be through several surgeries. Now your job is all about visuals images. How did those experiences effect? You creatively their idea of not being able to seize power. The sky was thing for me an hour.
but the first surgery. You know they put a bubble in your eye of filled with air, and then you have to serve stare down. So that's kind of holding you right, yes, holding a rich man I can play and in the smallest one fifth after three weeks, you're able to sort of look cops here down literally looking down, I'm face down here, but In that moment, I dreamt bigger than ever. I dreamt in technicolor. I saw images that I hadn't seen before, so I was busy because I was in the darkness. I was in darkness as well. I dreamt shoes I dreamt covers so, even though it was the darkest period of my life in a funny way, The brain went into creative overdrive like it did when I was younger, but yes, it was a probably the scariest moment of my life average. Am your your mother grace died in in twenty. Sixteen am
fausto and- and I know that after your long estrangement, you got back in touch with your father around that time, how we were able to. reconcile, I mean you know my mother had a stroke and my father had always been sort of this kind of ogre in the way- and I just watched him look after my mother fifteen years without care literally, will be with her every day. Looking after her putting her to bed and I've taken from- and I just saw a different man, I just saw a man getting older, who just loved his wife dearly and that really soften me and will go to my sister's houseful sort of sunday dinners talk more and more and when my mother passed I was, what an m o b and I had a party and the marks club just watch them, surrounded by all my famous friends, and he was just so dancing in his own world. So, yes, we're really really with good. Now
no he was lost in the music, but I think he was right up next to someone on the guns, for you, I'm not sure he noticed the unseemly madonna once you. If I didn't know too little, investment are hidden notice that he was just in his own words, but I just mean a real thing for him. It must have been a great and to the journey. You know, your children, ok and healthy at you also got married. in d c, a long term partner, alec on your fiftieth birthday. How is married life be married to Alec is one of the most is the most credible thing I've ever done because I wouldn't be here doing what I do without a lake and his support and was one of the most beautiful days of my life really show at written my freedom of ETA castillo
if I'm a that, I'm going to send you off to a desert island more about your practical skills, edward your survival skills. How did you think you'd get on in this new environment cast away from everything across the room, so you wouldn't be able to escape so you're stuck there, we've got it. I can't cook okay, but I like sushi well get some fresh water. Okay, yeah, alright, well one more track before we cast aware way, I'd written and fill your final disk today, love without tragedy, the flip beside mother, mary by real, reticent. a friend of mine and the reason why I love it song is when I was going through my rippled detachments and feeling lost feeling forgotten, because I didn't work for two years. Rihanna would always call to check up on me and I'll play this song, because the lyrics are so beautiful and minimum of growing up
in another place and her voice was so soothing, and I remember one core: we had assisted arena become forgot. What it gotten me. You know, depression is a very tough thing, an artist, and she said you know what edward I was working w magazine at the time she said when you come out. We're going to do them was incredible cover for w magazine, and we did this incredible cover with rihanna as the queen, which I dreamt, and she was sort of dripping in in jewels in the social crown yet and really was a tribute to the woman who really kept my spirits up when I was feeling so down. So this is for real love.
Tragedy. Mother man was a curious eyes. We, and love without tragedy, mother, Mary so then in full. The time has come. I'm going to cast you away to the desert island I'll, give you the books to take with you. You can have the bible, the complete works of shakespeare and another book of your choice. What are you going to take with you I'll? Take isabel wilkerson cast she's, a black american writer
it's about race in the world hierarchy, the caste system around the world and how we survive. You can also have a luxury item. I wonder what luxury means to you in the job that you do. Luxury for me is personal. Anything as personal have a pair of slippers made by mcqueen and on one side, the sun embroidery of rule missis gilbert had an embroidered with Alec, so they can be with plan, a love how personal that is, but also that, of course, I will send the queen well worth mother, impractical, averted luxury that Y know and finally, which one track the eight that you share with us today, which you saved from the waves. The hottest question maiming, I think I'll, take Numa simone strange fruit. Even to this day, when I hear me,
We want to do better really so, yes, I think you'll be strange fruit advocating for thank you very much for letting us here, your desk, the disks- oh, thank you so much for having made a dream, come true hello. I hope he enjoyed my conversation with edward. I am very glad he's a sushi lover for his sake. We ve got to many people from the first world, including catherine hum nets and roads and deemed vivian westward. You can hit those episodes designing discs programme archive I'm through BBC, sends the studio manager for today's programme was under guard the assistant produce. It was christine Pavlovsk iii and the producer was pulling mckinley next time. My guest will be the actor kate blanchett. I do hope. You'll join us
Hello, I'm anita on and then I'm hosting this year's bbc reflexes, which are on the subject of freedom. The lectures are inspired by franklin D, roosevelt famous for freedom of speech, and this year we have not one but four speakers. We look forward to a weed founded upon for essential human freedoms, the first as freedom of speech and expression. The second is freedom of every person to worship, god in his own way, the thugs freedom from want. The fourth is freedom from fear, a corsair. If speakers examine what freedom means today, beginning with the best selling or fair chiming mandate and gazing at each year, freedom of speeches, I think essential to be inhuman. You can hear all the lectures on radio for and BBC sounds just search for the reflections.
Transcript generated on 2023-02-17.