Ex-Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman claims a bitter atmosphere emerged when Edward Enninful took over

The former editor of British Vogue has said she was left feeling ‘persona non grata’ after her successor took over.

Alexandra Shulman, 62, who was at the helm of the fashion magazine for 25 years, said a bitterness had emerged when her successor Edward Enninful, 48, took over in 2017.

In her latest book, Clothes … and Other Things That Matter, the former editor writes of how the ‘narrative’ of British Vogue has changed since her departure.   

Alexandra Shulman, 62, who was at the helm of British Vogue for 25 years, said a bitterness had emerged when her successor Edward Enninful, 48, took over in 2017

She writes: ‘A narrative was growing up around British Vogue being a place that was filled with ‘posh white girls’ that he [Enninful, who is black] would be getting rid of.’

Speaking to The Times Ms Shulman said: ‘Edward has his passions and his talents and his mission that he wants to do with it. They’re not the same as mine but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong to have them, or that it’s a worse magazine.’    

Ms Shulman said she had made a real effort to ‘promote the legacy’ of her predecessor Dame Anna Wintor, 70, and was surprised when Mr Enninful didn’t do the same for her.

Edward Enninful with the Duchess of Sussex during the making of British Vogue's September 2019 Forces For Change issue

Edward Enninful with the Duchess of Sussex during the making of British Vogue’s September 2019 Forces For Change issue

She added that she felt ‘sad’ that a ‘bitterness’ had emerged after she left and she was ‘made a sort of persona non grata’ (person not appreciated), which she called ‘unnecessary and really surprising’.   

Jodie Comer on the cover of British Vogue's April 2020 issue

Jodie Comer on the cover of British Vogue’s April 2020 issue

Mr Enninful was announced as the new editor of British Vogue in April 2017, making him the first ever black male editor of the fashion bible.

Before his editorship at Vogue Mr Enninful, who hails from Ghana and is the son of a seamstress, was fashion and creative director at W Magazine for six years. He pipped Samantha Cameron’s sister, Emily Sheffield, who was formerly the magazine’s deputy, to the coveted role.  

Mr Enninful won an OBE in 2016 for services to diversity within the fashion industry so his appointment as the Editor of the world’s biggest fashion magazine was a progressive sign of the times.

He also spearheaded Vogue Italia’s Black Issue, which he hoped would end the ‘white-out that dominates the catwalks and magazines.’

The magazine, which featured only black models such as Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell, was such a sell-out success that 40,000 more copies had to be printed to meet demand.   

Enninful (above) took over from Shulman three years ago and changed the atmosphere she says

Shulman (above) says after she left the magazine she was made to feel persona non grata there

Enninful (left) took over from Shulman (right) three years ago and he changed the atmosphere there to make her feel persona non grata at the place where she worked for 25 years, she says

Ms Shulman is known for being behind some of the most iconic issues of British Vogue created during her time as editor.

These include the December 1999 Millennium Issue, which featured a mirror-like cover and became the highest selling issue of the magazine with a circulation of 241,001.


1999: Published a ‘millennium’ issue with a reflective cover – making Vogue readers the cover stars – in one of several iconic collectors’ issues she championed 

2005: Awarded an OBE for services to the fashion industry 

2009: Wrote an open letter to fashion houses criticising their ‘miniscule’ sample sizes 

2012: Published her first novel, Can We Still Be Friends?   

2013: Deemed one of the UK’s 100 most powerful women by BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour 

2016: Landed the Duchess of Cambridge’s first ever cover shoot, for Vogue’s special centenary issue 

‘I have been incredibly privileged to have been able to look after such a great magazine for so long and even more to have worked with so many people over those years who have made the experience so interesting and rich,’ she said at the time.

‘It was difficult to decide to leave but 25 years is a very long time and I am tremendously excited that I will now look forward into a different future – but I know that nothing will be quite like the years I have spent at Vogue.’    

Despite covid-19 sweeping the globe Ms Shulman said fashion still remains important to maintaining peoples’ sense of self, and said she had ‘spent a lot of time looking at what Vogue did during the war, over two wars you realise that those things do matter’. 

Writing in her Daily Mail column: ‘Keeping hair coloured may seem trivial amid the current tsunami of terrors but to some of us this is big stuff. Quite a significant number of us, I’d say, judging from anecdotal evidence.

‘This is not about age. It’s about maintaining a sense of self in a time of crisis and my self does not have grey hair. At least it never wants to see itself with grey hair.’

The former editor believes new fashion labels will ‘rise up again’ despite the economic hardships imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Shulman stepped down from her position at Vogue in January after 25 years there, making her the magazine's longest standing editor

Ms Shulman stepped down from her position at Vogue in January after 25 years there, making her the magazine’s longest standing editor

In her latest book Ms Shulman, who lives with her partner David Jenkins, 72, in west London, details her own battle with mental health while editing Vogue, revealing she was diagnosed with having panic attacks after three months of  ‘constantly thinking I was going to die’.

She said the anxiety was not due to her work load and says she is not currently anxious about the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to Times2 Ms Shulman added it was ‘fascinating’ how the wealthy cannot deal with coronavirus as ‘they have been able to spend their way out of everything, and, suddenly, they can’t spend their way out of this’.