Edward Enninful ‘shot for the moon & lost’ when he tried to take down Anna Wintour

Over the weekend, I tried to throw water on the gossip that Edward Enninful was stepping down from British Vogue because of a rift with Anna Wintour. The story, at the time, was that Enninful was moving from editor-in-chief to a looser, more advisory role with Conde Nast’s international Vogue editions. I honestly didn’t know that Enninful’s departure as EIC was going to be this… dramatique. My bad! The Times had a piece about how this was all one big power struggle behind the scenes and Anna Wintour basically won a game-of-thrones-style battle royale. Some highlights:

Enninful’s email: When Edward Enninful emailed his staff on Friday night, he put a brave face on it. He was stepping down as editor-in-chief of British Vogue, he wrote. Next year, he would be taking a “global advisory position” at the magazine, which would give him “the freedom to take on broader creative projects”. The title was nebulous but the meaning was clear. The never-ending game of thrones at Vogue House had turned spectacularly against him. His predecessor, Alexandra Shulman, had been on the throne for 25 years. After only six, Enninful was out.

Enninful’s tenure at British Vogue: Under Enninful, Vogue put diversity and inclusion at its heart. Some complained that readability fell by the wayside, with Enninful’s interest apparently lying more in styling than editing. Advertisers loved it, although some of his colleagues and employees were soon referring to him as the Queen Mother, The Sunday Times reported, because of his “alleged diva-like behaviour”.

The diva-fest: “Say what you like about Alex Shulman and her ‘posh girls’ but she managed to keep the office egos in check,” one fashion insider says. “Under Edward it has been an absolute diva-fest — fashion PRs report a return to Ab Fab bad behaviour, from staff members jostling for front row seats to tantrums thrown in exotic locations because the menu did not comply with esoteric dietary requirements.” There are even rumours that several of Enninful’s wealthy and well-known friends tried to get their flights and accommodation sponsored by fashion brands instead of paying out of their own pocket.

Wintour did not approve: From the start, there were rumours that the real queen of Condé Nast, Anna Wintour, didn’t think Enninful was qualified for the job. For his part, Enninful made no secret of the fact that he coveted hers. He viewed British Vogue as a momentary stop on his way ultimately to becoming editor of US Vogue, the most important job in fashion. “He did not believe he would have to play second fiddle for much longer to a seventysomething woman,” a confidant told John Arlidge in The Sunday Times. He was wrong.

Years of clashes between Wintour & Enninful: He made a point of hosting separate British Vogue parties and, when the New York Times asked to interview him with Wintour, he declined. He and Wintour clashed over the editorial content of British Vogue, with Wintour putting her foot down when he wanted to make the magazine gender neutral. “Wintour would say ‘Don’t listen to Edward’,” a Vogue insider told The Mail on Sunday. “He would say ‘Don’t listen to Anna’.” Last September, when asked on Vogue’s video series 73 Questions what she thought she would be doing with her life if she weren’t an editor-in-chief, she deadpanned: “Conflict negotiation.”

Overplaying his hand: Ultimately, it seems that Enninful may have overplayed his hand: The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that he threatened to resign last year unless he was given her job. “Edward shot for the moon and lost,” a friend told The Sunday Times, “and so will go back to his first love, which is being a stylist.” He has told friends that he can make “a lot more money outside Condé Nast than in it”, and has long been frustrated at having to turn down lucrative consultancies because of perceived conflict of interest. Whether money will compensate for not getting the job he so obviously coveted remains to be seen. Maybe one day he’ll stage a comeback. If and when Wintour steps down, perhaps Enninful will head in triumph to New York. For the time being, if he goes to the Met Gala it will be as a guest like anyone else, not the host. With brands including Apple rumoured to be lining him up for big-budget projects, he’ll be crying all the way to the bank.

[From The Times]

Sure. I’ll buy this. Enninful wasn’t the dutiful lieutenant after all, and it was more of an All About Eve situation with Enninful constantly doing the most to marginalize Wintour and eventually overtake her. Here’s the thing I don’t get though – why are there all these references, in all of the reporting and gossip, that Wintour’s position is any way tenuous? From what I’ve seen, she’s accumulated vast control and oversight over many Conde Nast publications and if she doesn’t like what an editor is doing, she alone can get that person fired. Enninful was bonkers to think he could legitimately challenge her power or go behind her back to Conde Nast corporate and issue an ultimatum.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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58 Responses to “Edward Enninful ‘shot for the moon & lost’ when he tried to take down Anna Wintour”

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  1. Snuffles says:

    This is literally the sub-plot to Devil
    Wears Prada except in the movie it was the editor of French Vogue.

  2. Jais says:

    I just don’t know that I believe all these sources from the times. It’s the times🙄 of the Meghan bullying story. Did the two not get along? Possibly sure. But was he really going after her job when the devil wore Prada already foretold how that would go? Maybe idk. Just seems like a lot of friends ready to give quotes about what happened.

    • Polo says:

      Yeah I can’t believe this full story either considering the history of reporting by the times. We’ll see what else comes out.

      • Isabella says:

        He seems to have a massive ego and thought he could dethrone the Queen. And 70 isn’t that old. Look at her. Look at Martha Stewart.

    • Tacky says:

      I’m not buying this at all. Wintour is Condé Nast at this point. Enninful may have wanted a bigger job, but he certainly wasn’t gunning for Wintour,

    • goofpuff says:

      Its there in the subtext. Wintour didn’t like the diversity that he brought to British Vogue. She prefers very skinny and very white. She wanted him out because he was gathering power in a way she could never do and she didn’t want to do.

  3. Midnight@theOasis says:

    😂🤣LMAO. In the words of Bugs Bunny, what a ma-roon. In what universe does any rational person think they can take down Anna Wintour? Did he learn nothing from what Anna did to Andre Leon Talley? Dude’s ego truly got the best of him.

  4. It Really Is You, Not Me says:

    With the caveat that I don’t know much about this man or situation except for what I have read on this site BUT a lot of people overestimate their hand and think they are more important than they are, so he may indeed have thought that he had the leverage to take down Anna Wintour. She’s 70+ so there must be succession planning going on. Maybe he miscalculated that Conde Nast would side with him over someone who probably only has 5-10 years of leadership left.

  5. CheChe says:

    A Texas journalist once said, “don’t forget the people who brung you.” This man tried to ignore the optics and got burnt.

  6. Slush says:

    You come at the Queen, you best not miss.

  7. Sunny O says:

    For the life of me, I will never understand Anna Wintour’s ascent as Editor in Chief at American Vogue nor do I understand how she has managed to acquire so much power at Conde Nast.

    The moment she took over Vogue the magazine took a very prosaic and very Caucasian turn. I only thought Andre Leon Tally’s content to be of relevance.

    How many editorials of people jumping in the air can one magazine produce over the years? A lot apparently.

    I bought a subscription to British Vogue because I love the diversity along with the exciting, inspiring, and evocative content.

    I stopped subscribing to American Vogue ages ago.

    I don’t think Anna Wintour liked being outshone by Edward Enninful, the superior and more talented EIC.

    That’s my take.

    • Blithe says:

      I agree with everything that you’ve said about US Vogue under Anna Wintour. I was startled though, a few years back, when I realized that the Vogue family of publications already had an excellent magazine that had room for substantive issues, multiple viewpoints, and genuine diversity throughout its pages — Teen Vogue — when Elaine Welteroth was the editor. This thread is a nice reminder that even when Vogue USA seems bland and out of touch, Teen Vogue might be worth a look — even though I’m so not their target audience.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        I dumped the US edition of Vogue at least 8+ years ago. Wintour is simply plain white toast, with no earth shattering content nor articles.

        Though I am the demographic for Vogue, they certainly don’t drive me to run out and purchase what they are selling. US Vogue has no redeeming quality and it’s the same magazine month after month.

        I have run out of magazines to subscribe to! VF used to be one of my favorites as well but they went tits up as well!!

      • BeanieBean says:

        @Blithe: I’ve heard that about Teen Vogue. On another note, I do like AW’s personal style. Not fond of the hair/wig, but clothes, accessories, makeup, etc., I do like.

      • BQM says:

        Elaine is a judge on Project Runway. Her styling is fabulous. Always something new.

    • Pointillist says:

      It’s just so empty and vapid.

      They publish stories on up and comers – usually white, beautiful, upper middle class women from NYC. If you google the women the year after, the women usually disappear. It’s just about looks and appearances.

      There is no substance.

    • Lux says:

      When Blake-freaking-Lively kept getting covers before she did anything of note (one for the launch of Preserve, I believe?) was when I was like, something is not right with this version of the supposed zeitgeist. And then Kim Kardashian got a cover and I’m like, okay, now they’ve tilted way too far into the lowbrow. Granted, I will say that the Kardashians are trend-setting and made luxury brands mass market with their endless logo-mania (a trend I detest but a trend, nonetheless). However, as someone who would never purchase a magazine with them on the cover, US Vogue just kept tanking in esteem as years went by. At least Enninful showed us that you could be diverse AND tasteful—his covers are beautiful.

    • Gigi says:

      SI Newhouse looooooved him some Anna. He gave her everything she wanted, which is how she solidified her power over Condé Nast.

  8. Ann says:

    Alexandra Shulman is a racist bag and Anna Wintour should have been gone. Whatever! It’s The Times it looks like someone wants this to be the story. I don’t know that I believe all of it.

  9. Haylie says:

    This is sounding an awful lot like the racist narrative of black people “knowing their place.” By all accounts, he was wonderful at British Vogue. When black people succeed too much, white people will try to take them down. I haven’t forgotten how Anna did the same to Andre Leon Talley.

    Giving a side eye to all the Karens that talk about “If you gone for the queen, don’t miss.”

    • Snuffles says:

      While I’m sure race was a big element of this, that doesn’t change the fact that Anna Wintour is a ruthless bitch and if ANYONE, regardless of race, was going to come after her job, they better be prepared to take her out with their first shot.

      Anna won’t be the Queen forever and she knows that, but she’d rather hand pick her successor than be ousted.

      • girl_ninja says:

        But the facts are the facts. Anna has stepped over the bodies of two prominent black men to keep control and power. Please stop making excuses for her bullshit.

      • Snuffles says:

        I’m not making excuses for her. I’m just saying that she’s the type of person who will take out anyone she deems a threat.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ girl_ninja, I will never forgive AW for what she did to ATL. Wintour is a vindictive, vile and cruel woman whose power has become reckless and harmful. As soon as CN comes to this conclusion, the better!!

      • Coco says:

        @ Snuffles

        Let’s not make excuses for her racism. Let’s not forget the American vogue that she’s in charge of, in which multiple employees came out about the racism there, and how Anna knew and did nothing, and when the stories came out, she still end up doing nothing about it.

      • Snuffles says:


        Absolutely nothing I said negates that. She can be a vicious power hungry bitch who takes out her competition, regardless of race, AND a racist.

    • Oh_Hey says:

      Even in the comments here people are acting like EE getting uppity was the issue. British Vogue has been killing it in terms of diversity and readership with Shulman gone. Meanwhile some of the same folks that praise EE for his collab on the Meghan guest edited issue are making dog whistle comments about this change.

      • Mel says:

        Perhaps it’s the same people who enjoy holding on to the impression the Meghan has to be scared of Kate and say other problematic stuff that they think is “helpful.”

    • Flying fish says:

      It sure as hell does.

    • Pointillist says:

      He’s incredible.

    • SarahCS says:

      I was ready to cancel my subscription when he came along and I’ve really enjoyed his tenure. depending on who/what comes next I may be saving myself some money in the not too distant future.

    • BQM says:

      1) I don’t think believing in the old adage if you come for the king/queen you best not miss is being a Karen or explaining away behaviors.

      2) I don’t think EE *was* coming for her though. I think SHE may have thought so though. CN has to at least be planning for the future. But maybe not.

      3) this article sounded so many dog whistles. Even if some is true, like this world isn’t full of diva behavior. Please.

      4) AW treated ALT so badly. I highly recommend his autobiography and the documentary on him. I loved him on America’s Next Top model for the seasons he was on.

  10. Roo says:

    My slight knowledge of him is that he was initially welcomed as breath of fresh air and talent, was very supportive and welcoming to Meghan but then criticized her when he receiving his OBE (or some such other from the RF). My takeaway was that he cultivated the stodgy class structure in England rather than challenging it.

    • Pointillist says:

      LOLOL he put the HEROES of the pandemic on the cover of Vogue – nurses etc who aren’t paid well. You simply have no idea of what you are talking about. He explicitly said his Vogue is:
      “…about diversity—showing different women, different body shapes, different races, different classes [and] tackling gender.”

      I don’t believe the Gender Neutral thing either – Times trying to start transphobic ish. He loves women’s fashion and most of his styling was in it.

    • Carrie says:

      Roo: Agree with you.

  11. Flower says:

    LMAO this article pretty much confirms what I said re my comments in the last thread about Eddie.

    If Conde Nast did allow Anna to game of thrones him, they better have a VERY TALENTED successor at the helm otherwise they’re finished.

    Editing a magazine IS about the cult of personality which AW essentially is to the point where a book, film and numerous editorials have been written about her. How will she ensure the legacy of vogue if she keeps gunning down anyone who threatens her ?

  12. TheOriginalMia says:

    He seriously overestimated his power. If you’re going to come for the queen, don’t miss. He didn’t understand that to take Anna down he would need more years being under her shoe, garnering more and more power until he could topple her. Oh well.

  13. Sid says:

    I can buy that Enninful thought he would eventually run US Vogue. With his history in the industry and the way he revitalized British Vogue, I assumed he would be Wintour’s eventual successor. What I have a harder time buying is that he was running around giving ultimatums about getting the job now. In spite of his work at BV, Enninful has shown himself willing to tapdance in order to placate and maintain his status. I have a hard time believing he would pull something like what is alleged. But everyone has their breaking point, so maybe?

  14. Chantal says:

    I’m not sure I buy this narrative any more than the last one but obviously something major went down. I thought there was trouble brewing when he downplayed the racism Meghan experienced and grew increasingly suspicious when he came out with that vomit inducing sycophantic drivel he called an article praising C-Rex to the heavens. Now will he go to war with AW, or cower in a corner? Time will tell but it’s good that he has other options outside of Conde Nast.

  15. Snoozer says:

    I read a fantastic article about the career trajectories of black women some years ago discussing the phenomenon of ‘From Pet to Threat’ – a term coined by Kecia M. Thomas.

    It detailed how black women are often held up as an example of how progressive a workplace is. The people who hire them smugly pat themselves on the back for how far they’ve moved the needle by hiring these (highly qualified!) black women whilst simultaneously doing the classic paternalistic, not really listening, death by a thousand racist microaggressions type of white liberal f*ckery. If those black women push back on their treatment, demand to be heard, or try to genuinely enact real trasnition and change in the workplace, they transition from office pet to a full-on threat, with all of the ‘angry black woman’ tropes weaponised against them. They are then bullied out, transitioned out, so disempowered that they give up and leave, or just let go.

    That term is specifically about black female experience in the workplace; but I feel like there might be some shades of that here too.

    Enningful was the shiny example of how progressive Vogue and Conde Naste have become. But when he overperformed, outshone US Vogue, pointed out racism at CN, pushed for ‘too much’ in terms of progressive updates, advocated for himself and pushed for more he became a full on THREAT.

  16. Freddy says:

    Just maybe Edward wants to do more than be a magazine editor (like making more $$$ and being part of bigger projects). If Edward was shooting for Anna’s crown and lost, she wouldn’t agree to any “consulting” position—she would have handled it in the same manner as she did Carine Roitfeld@Paris Vogue situation.

  17. matthew says:

    This is all true. One million percent. It’s been a very open (not even) secret in New York for years that this was all going on.

  18. Amy Bee says:

    He should have sucked up to Anna instead of the Royal Family.

    • Linda says:

      @Amy Bee
      He should have sucked up to someone accused of allowing racism fester in Vogue US??????? This is such a wrong take.

  19. Mel says:

    I don’t read Vogue but everyone is allowed to shoot their shot. He tried he failed, so he gets to learn from it and go about his business. Anna Wintour is no sacred cow, she’s not untouchable, you’re not out of place or uppity for challenging her.

  20. Sue E Generis says:

    I can’t stand this guy. He’s deluded, confused and most unforgivable – untalented. I really don’t understand how he got so far. His work is unimpressive and he’s wildly overrated. He lost me completely when he threw Meghan under the bus. Seems like he bought into his own PR.

    • Linda says:

      You think Edward is untalented? You must be joking. Maybe you want us to go back to the bland days of Alexander Schulman.

  21. teecee says:

    I’m team “Americans should be the EICs of American publications”, so good riddance to both of them. Enniful downplaying Meghan’s treatment in the UK (after she gave him the best-performing issue of Vogue UK of all time) and his sucking up to Charles (which got him decimated on Instagram and Black Twitter) means that he can’t be trusted to steer such a large publication such as US Vogue. Sorry. I’m glad he brought more diversity to the pages of a more niche, low-pressure publication like UK Vogue, but that’s not enough. He can go back to styling, where he’ll still be able to partake in his favorite hobby – kissing up to white toffs.

  22. kd says:

    I believe NONE of this reporting.

  23. HK9 says:

    My hope is he goes to another magazine and crushes Vogue. He’s excellent and I think he needs a position that gives him the autonomy he deserves. I stopped reading Vogue 10+ years ago because other magazines were much more interesting. What Anna does, she’s been doing for years and it’s boring. I wish him the best. I have a feeling Vogue may regret this.

  24. EduBois says:

    This comment thread is wild! Lots of Karens confused since Enninful is a deep complected brother. Harder to support than an very light complected woman.

    He’s being drummed out. He pushed to far for the yt ownership to be comfortable. And yet some here are chuckling since he “came at the queen” and failed. And believing a publication they quickly denounced when deriding Meghan. Hmmm. We black folks know you all!! 😂

    Enninful will be fine. He’s actually too good for Vogue. He will go from strength to strength.

    • yellowy says:

      You’re the one bringing Meghan’s skin colour into this. There’s no need to use her as a cudgel to beat people who disagree with your take.

  25. ST says:

    I’m curious what a successful fashion magazine is these days. Is it successful because of sales? Does anyone know? Due to the internet, all magazines have taken a hit. I do think he was naive to think he could challenge her. She’s managed to accumulate so much power over the years and it isn’t clear to me why. US Vogue is ssooo bland.