Naomi Campbell criticises lack of diversity at Vogue

Naomi Campbell has criticised the lack of diversity among staff of the fashion magazine Vogue, highlighting how a staff photo taken under a former editor, Alexandra Shulman, showed a complete absence of black staff members.

Shulman stepped down at the beginning of August to be replaced by Edward Enninful, not only the first man but also the first non-white person to edit the influential magazine in its 100-year history. His appointment was heralded by many, including Campbell, as a moment of reckoning for the fashion industry, which has a deeply entrenched issue with diversity and race across the board.

Yet the final picture of Shulman’s staff of around 50 highlighted how much Enninful will have to grapple with the issue.

In an Instagram post, Campbell said: “This is the staff photo of @britishvogue under the previous editor #AlexandraSchulman,” Campbell wrote. “Looking forward to an inclusive and diverse staff now that @edward_enninful is the editor … let’s hear your thoughts?”

It prompted an outpouring of anger on social media as the past lack of diversity on the Vogue staff was laid bare.

One user responded to Campbell’s picture: “I didn’t realise there was such a lack of diversity behind a revered British institution. That’s quite shocking for 2017. Edward has his work cut out. Let’s hope he modernises and together let’s watch as profits grow as he makes the magazine inclusive to all colours.”

Another added: “Diversity and inclusive practices are a must especially in fashion … black and brown people’s cultural influence in fashion are innumerable and should be reflected in every aspect of the industry.”

Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell.
Pinterest
 Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell. Photograph: Timpone/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock

Before taking up the post at the beginning of August, Enninful announced a series of appointments that attempted to rectify the issue. Campbell, film director Steve McQueen and model and activist Adwoa Aboah were all named as contributing editors and a make-up artist, Pat McGrath, was named beauty editor-at large.

However, despite a shake-up of the old guard, the new staff who will work with Enninful on a daily basis are still overwhelmingly white. His creative director will be Johan Svensson, his senior fashion editor will be Poppy Kain, Jack Borkett will be fashion editor, while Anders Madsen was appointed fashion critic.

Nonetheless, Enninful has pledged that his time as editor will see diversity embraced on the pages of Vogue and behind it, a change from a world where only two black models have had solo Vogue covers in the past 15 years. Enninful was awarded an OBE for services to diversity in fashion in 2016 and has not shied away from the issue since being named editor, pledging to “change it from the inside”.

His commitment to the issue was also demonstrated by a campaign he directed and styled for Gap, the clothing brand, in July which united models of different genders, races and ages all in white T-shirts. “In the casting I chose individuals [who] inspire me and represent the world – from actors to activists, models to athletes to performers,” said Enninful. “A cast of varying genders, sexuality, religions, ages and backgrounds – to me this is the world we live in and the world we should see.”