On Monday WWD broke the news that Vanessa Kingori, formerly of GQ, will soon take on the role of Publishing Director at British Vogue, the latest in a series of exciting hires since the visionary Edward Enninful took the reigns as Editor-in-Chief.
London has some of the most exciting talent in fashion right now (Grace Wales Bonner, Molly M Goddard and Halpern to name a few), but for some reason I have never been moved by British Vogue in the same way Ms. Wintour and her bande has moved me with say, John Currin’s portrait of Jennifer Lawrence this September or their powerful head-on portrait of a secretly pregnant Serena Williams in April.
But with this change of leadership and the ushering in of both new and established talent at the book, my attention has been captured. As deftly pointed out by Naomi Campbell, these new contributors and managers represent a huge step forward in diversity amongst the staff. Pat McGrath, Kate Moss, Adwoa Aboah, Naomi Campbell, Grace Coddington… there is not a lot of math involved in knowing that this is a team that cannot lose.
It is difficult to talk about diversity and representation right now without being met with at least some commentary that fashion is not meant to be political, and that positioning fashion outlets to confront or discuss delicate socio-political issues like race risks alienating readers, and thus, advertisers. If you follow American Vogue on any social media outlets, you will see any post that even subtly criticized the current US President, an avid white supremacist, is met with comments of near fury and vows to drop subscriptions.
Conversations that extend beyond the confectionary analysis of runway trends and the interview with this month’s hottest actress are surely charged, but that does not make them any less necessary.
When asked on the red carpet at the 2017 who she was rooting for, Issa Rae responded without hesitation, “I’m rooting for all the black people.” And while we are, too – every day – it is important for us to acknowledge that a magazine with what was previously a shocking lack of diversity is about to have a very real and tangible edge over the competition, brought to you by Diversity of Thought. That is what happens when you hire voices with different backgrounds, when you hire people that represent your readership, when you elevate women to executive roles that have not seen female leadership in the past.
Vanessa Kingori paved the way for GQ’s entry to the digital market in her role there, rethinking entirely how the magazine engaged and captured their audience (and doubling sales, to boot). As the first female publisher ever at British Vogue, a publication at the brink of stepping into the future of fashion publications, we are beyond excited to see what she does next.
Opening image courtesy Afia Magazine.
Image 2 courtesy of WWD Via Dvora/REX/Shutterstock