As the temperature set on a hot day in Harlem, hundreds gathered at the Apollo Theater, world-renowned for its Amateur Night, a make-it-or-break-it stage that attracts performers and audiences from around the world for its classic talent competition. But this night wasn’t about competition. It was a celebration of a man who has transcended countless barriers both personally and professionally in his quest to have the fashion industry reflect the REAL world we live in: A world that is all-inclusive, diverse and ever changing.
Admittedly one who doesn’t like to look back, the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, and its ensuing riots found British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful suddenly in a reflective state. For once in his adult life, he had the time to slow down and think about the world around him — a world that he helped to shape for the better in his own way. What came from that reflection is “A Visible Man,” his memoir about breaking barriers.
From growing up with a seamstress mother and fleeing war-torn Ghana for London at a young age to being scouted on the Metro, becoming the youngest fashion director for i-D Magazine, continuously working his way up in the cut-throat fashion industry, and finding himself, his sexuality and “tribe,” “A Visible Man” is packed with stories that anyone can relate to. Stories of triumph and defeat, finding and recreating oneself while occasionally dealing with imposter syndrome — but most of all, leading with empathy for others.
As he sat on that famed stage with the moderator, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, with the crowd hanging on his every word, Enninful bellowed, “How did we get here? Can you believe where we are?!” After following his work and now reading his memoir, I can say for myself and many others that it was fated for him to be here. And according to him, he’s just getting started!
“A Visible Man” by Edward Enninful is available now at all bookstores for $30.