Enninful opts for a salt-baked salmon, saffron rice and butternut squash salad and, on his recommendation, I go for salt-baked salmon and aioli with a chick pea and pepper salad.
The first edition of Vogue under his editorship is about to arrive on news stands. I have already received a top-secret set of proofs of the December issue, hand-delivered by a nervous girl from the Condé Nast office. It’s the culmination of months of hysteria and hype. First Shulman announced her departure, in January, after 25 years at the helm. Then came the gossip-athon over who would get the job and the surprise, in certain circles, over Enninful’s appointment. And finally there was the "posh girl exodus" of long-serving staff, departing in a swift regime change dubbed "Vrexit". Deputy editor Emily Sheffield and fashion director Lucinda Chambers were two high-profile departures; among new hires are film director Steve McQueen, super-stylist Venetia Scott, and model Naomi Campbell as an unlikely interviewer.
He plays down the shake-up with customary diplomacy. "When any manager comes into a team they need to do that, and there were people who I felt would help me realise what I had in my mind, who I trusted." With the future of print magazines uncertain, and with luxury fashion brands reviewing their business models, the most powerful man in British fashion has a job that’s going to be as challenging as it is chic.
Not only is Enninful the first male editor of British Vogue, and its first black editor, he’s also a stylist used to mastering imagery rather than words. He doesn’t have the invisible labels of privilege that most Vogue staff wear, and he wants Vogue to reflect that.
"When I heard I got the job, I thought I would love to create a Vogue that is inclusive, that represents the world today. I spoke to many of my friends who live [in London] and they felt that they weren’t represented somehow in the magazine. They come from all walks of life and I thought it’s very important to me to create a magazine that deals with a range of all sizes, age, gender, religion, modern Britain today. I wanted Vogue to be inviting and not so intimidating."
After relocating from New York, he has moved back to west London, near his childhood stomping ground. He is even toying with buying a property on his old street. Enninful’s family emigrated from Ghana when he was a toddler. Growing up with his army officer father, seamstress mother and five siblings, he says he had a "happy" childhood. Fashion, he says, first sparked his interest when he watched his late mother running up clothes for local women on her Singer sewing machine. From her, he learnt how to make and customise his own designs.
"I come from a family who didn’t have much money but raised me to believe that money wasn’t the most important thing in the world. We had enough, we were happy. My mother and father just taught me the basics, to be really kind, to really listen to people. I have never been one to put on airs and graces."
Nonetheless, he was awarded the honour of OBE last year for helping diversify the fashion industry. He says his mother was "just over the moon, it meant so much to my parents, that’s why, out of respect to my mother, I always add [OBE] to my name."
Enninful is unapologetically well connected — just look at him on Instagram, pictured with everyone from Rihanna to Madonna. But it was a chance meeting that started his career. "I didn’t know anything about the fashion industry until I met the stylist Simon Foxton on the Tube. I was 16, on my way to Kingsway College and then my whole world opened up." Squeaking with laughter, he adds, "Before that, like in every African family, you are meant to be a lawyer." The meeting with Foxton led to work as a model, stylist and then as fashion director of avant-garde style magazine i-D in 1991. He styled shoots for Vogue Italia and American Vogue (he has a cameo in the documentary The September Issue) and became creative and fashion director of American fashion magazine W in 2011.
Enninful is known for his maverick style: in 2005 he created a memorably kitsch story called Makeover Madness for Vogue Italia depicting supermodel Linda Evangelista as a wealthy fashion victim undergoing plastic surgery. In 2008 he masterminded an issue of Vogue Italia featuring only black models. It proved so popular that 40,000 extra copies were printed.
So what’s the master plan to boost the numbers at Vogue, currently with a print circulation of 190,021, down 2.6% year on year? Condé Nast is in the process of slashing jobs and budgets, and has just reduced the print version of UK Glamour to twice a year and made Teen Vogue in the US online only.
His reply, like those of many people hailed as visionaries, is vague. "I think the most important thing is the ability to speak to the women out there and if an increase comes with that, great." But has he been set a target? "Yes, but you’ll have to ask someone else about that."
The average print reader is aged 38. Can he persuade millennials to buy the magazine? "That’s why we go back to digital and other platforms, which will hopefully lead them to pick up the magazine." The digital team have now been combined with the magazine team in its Hanover Square offices. And how is he going to identify with a female audience? "I have been working with women for 20 years, my sex has never had anything to do with it. I love women and I always have."
Issue one of the Enninful era speaks of an editor who doesn’t waste time on self-doubt or affectation. "Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t really dwell. Of course, I get stressed — I don’t always show it but everyone has their internal life." After going to film director David Lynch’s transcendental meditation centre in the US, he now meditates for 20 minutes a day. His preternatural calm doesn’t come naturally.