British Vogue editor Edward Enninful has described Meghan Markle as a ‘bi-racial powerhouse’, while praising her ‘hands-on’ work ethic that saw her focusing on her duties as the magazine’s guest editor throughout her pregnancy.
The 47-year-old has shared intimate details about what it was like to work with the royal both in an exclusive interview with Good Morning America, and in his editor’s letter, describing 37-year-old Meghan in the latter as being ‘the real deal — and an ultimate force for change’.
‘On a personal note, I can’t overstate how much it meant to me to see HRH The Duke of Sussex marry this brilliant, bi-racial, American powerhouse,’ he added.
The details: Edward Enninful spoke to Good Morning America about the 37-year-old Duchess of Sussex’s turn as guest editor for the magazine
into it: The 47-year-old British Vogue editor-in-chief said Meghan was ‘very involved’
Meanwhile, in an interview with Good Morning America on Monday morning, the day after the magazine was first unveiled, Edward continued to discuss Meghan’s worth ethic, explaining that she focused on her guest editor role even while she was pregnant with her son Archie, and after his birth.
‘We’ve been working on this for seven months and the duchess was very hands on from the beginning,’ he said. ‘She was very involved.’
While some celebrity collaborations simply involve the star in question putting her stamp of approval — and name — on a finished product, Enninful said that’s not the case with Meghan.
‘I mean, we worked really side-by-side,’ he said.
‘She was involved in the choice of photographer, the choice of subject, from the front of the book right to the end, and she did this when she was pregnant, and from when she had the baby and after she had the baby.’
That subject was ‘Forces of Change,’ spotlighting a group of 15 women who are making a difference.
‘Meghan, with this issue, wanted to sort of put across these incredible change-makers,’ he explained.
‘The message is female empowerment. And also the message is about sort of staking your claim in the world and being unafraid. And that’s why we called it Forces of Change,’ he said.
Publisher Vanessa Kingori also had kind things to say about Meghan, telling GMA last year: ‘She represents a new kind of diversity and modernity.’
Praise: Edward said that Meghan was hands-on about every aspect of the magazine, and ‘did this when she was pregnant, and from when she had the baby and after she had the baby’
Side-by-side: ‘We’ve been working on this for seven months and the duchess was very hands on from the beginning,’ he said
‘Meghan, with this issue, wanted to sort of put across these incredible change-makers,’ he explained
Though the news broke on Sunday night, Enninful has given few interviews about Meghan, with the only one having aired so far on GMA — which, incidentally, is the same morning show where Meghan’s BFF Jessica Mulroney serves as a fashion correspondent.
While Jessica regularly appears on the morning show to talk fashion, she has reportedly refused to speak about Meghan at all.
In February, sources told DailyMail.com that GMA signed Jessica in hopes of having some access to Meghan, and many people were disappointed when she refused to cough up any details about the royals.
Connection: Enninful spoke to Good Morning America, for which Meghan’s BFF Jessica Mulroney is a fashion correspondent
However, one executive with ABC News told DailyMail.com that it was always part of the deal that she could keep mum about their friendship, saying: ‘When she made her agreement to appear on ABC it was on the condition that we couldn’t ask her anything about Meghan Markle.’
But Enninful was happy to share a bit with GMA, and he also published a few choice quotes on Vogue’s website.
He said: ‘To have the country’s most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honour, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise.’
‘As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege.
‘From the very beginning, we talked about the cover — whether she would be on it or not. In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a “boastful” thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.’
Enninful, meanwhile, quite admires Meghan. He wrote: ‘Anyone who knows me, or has read this title since I became its editor two years ago, will already appreciate that the Duchess is a woman for whom I have a deep and profound respect.
‘From negotiating first-time motherhood within an ancient institution to changing how we frame the conversation around women who face rabid media interest, her positive influence is everywhere.’
‘Since she first began to navigate the waters of the British establishment, I, like so many in this country, have found her to be an inspirational woman of action.
‘There is the gently modernising manner in which she has approached her new role at the centre of Britain’s public life,’ he said.
Mpvers and shakers: Meghan chose 15 women who are ‘forces for change’ for the cover’
Star power: She and Enninful agreed to hire Peter Lindbergh to photograph the issue
‘On a personal note, I can’t overstate how much it meant to me to see HRH The Duke of Sussex marry this brilliant, bi-racial, American powerhouse,’ he went on.
‘I simply never imagined that, in my lifetime, someone of my colour would — or could — enter the highest echelons of our Royal Family.’
He said that watching her wedding to Prince Harry, ‘it was clear that the world was witnessing something incredibly powerful. It went beyond diversity, beyond inclusivity, into humanity. It was pure love.’
He also insisted that in real life, Meghan lives up to what admirers imagine she is.
Talking it up: Enninful was thrilled to have the Duchess sign on for the issue
‘When you only know someone by their public persona, all too often you find yourself disappointed by the reality,’ he said.
‘But, once in a while, someone comes along who exceeds all of your expectations. Let me say this for The Duchess of Sussex: she is the real deal — and an ultimate force for change. ‘
Together, he said, they worked away on the issue, agreeing on hiring photographer Peter Lindbergh to shoot the stars and subjects of the issue.
‘It was one of those brilliantly spontaneous moments when HRH The Duchess of Sussex and I had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time,’ he said.
‘Peter sees beauty in real people, in real situations. He makes everybody feel their best.’
Peter, meanwhile, told Vogue.com about the clear instructions that Meghan gave him for the portraits, telling him to keep things ‘natural.’
‘I hate retouching, I hate make-up. I always say, “Take the make-up off!”‘ the 74-year-old said.
‘The number of beautiful women who have asked me to lengthen their legs or move their eyes further apart… You would not believe. It’s a culture of madness.
‘My instructions from the Duchess were clear: “I want to see freckles!” he added. ‘Well, that was like running through open doors for me. I love freckles.’
Royals: Enninful is pictured with the Duchess of Cambridge in February 2018
Hobnobbing: He also sat front row at a London Fashion Week show with Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall
Meanwhile, Meghan has offered up a few of her own words ahead of the issue’s release.
In a letter to readers that appears in the issue, the Duchess reveals that she was asked to appear on the cover, but asked if she could contribute in a different way.
‘So I asked the question. Actually, I typed and deleted the question several times until I built up the courage to ask the question in question: “Instead of doing the cover, would you be open to me guest editing your September issue?”‘ she said.
‘I know how important the September issue is for the fashion industry,’ she said. ‘I realise the reach, and I see the opportunity to be a part of fashion’s push for something greater, kinder, more impactful. But I am also a little nervous to be boldly asking the editor-in-chief, whom I’d only just met, to take a chance on me.’
My instructions from the Duchess were clear: ‘I want to see freckles!’
Photographer Peter Lindbergh
Enninful also recalled the pair getting in touch, saying they had an ‘instant connection’ the first time they met — and when she asked to guest edit, ‘I didn’t have to think: I knew the answer was yes.’
Wrote Meghan: ‘Within a week, Edward and I were having our regular meetings — discussing goals, ideas, who would feature on the cover, all while I was undergoing a crash course in editorial lingo.
‘I was trying to blend in, to keep up with the pace of these seasoned professionals, and to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible.’
Enninful said that Meghan was a natural.
‘From the outset, I discovered someone with a real editor’s mind, who knew how to align what she wanted to say with everything we stand for here at British Vogue,’ he wrote.
‘When I first showed her layouts of how some early features might look… Well, she just got it. From ideas and the flatplan, to selecting and commissioning writers and photographers, it was a process she instantly understood.’
Involved: In a letter to readers that appears in the issue, the Duchess reveals that she was asked to appear on the cover, but asked if she could contribute in a different way
Long time: Meghan was just five months pregnant when she began working on the issue (pictured in February)
Long time: Now the new mother has a three-month-old at home (pictured on July 10 with Archie)
Meghan revealed the philosophy that guided her guest editorship of the fashion bible Vogue was a quote from the book The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin, based on the author’s relationship with a lover.
The female protagonist Djuna tells her partner Rango: ‘I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.’
Meghan writes: ‘For this issue, I imagined, “Why would we swim in the shallow end of the pool when we could go to the deep end?” A metaphor for life, as well as for this issue. Let’s be braver. Let’s go a bit deeper. That’s what Edward and I have aimed to achieve. An issue of both substance and levity.’
She went on to write that for the issue, she and Enninful wanted to achieve ‘an issue of both substance and levity. It is, after all, the September issue of British Vogue, and an opportunity to further diversify what that typically represents.
Meghan wrote about her edition: ‘The overall sentiment I hope you’ll find, however, will be one of positivity, kindness, humour and inclusivity.’
More than anything, this issue is about the power of the collective.
‘In identifying our personal strengths, it is anchored in the knowledge that we are even stronger together. You will find that spirit of inclusivity on the cover: diverse portraiture of women of varying age, colour, creed, nationality and life experience, and of unquestionable inspiration.
‘Some, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and enlisted personally for this issue, others I’ve admired from afar for their commitment to a cause, their fearlessness in breaking barriers, or what they represent simply by being.
One-on-one: Michelle Obama was interviewed by Meghan for the issue
‘These are our forces for change. And among all of these strong women on the cover, a mirror — a space for you, the reader, to see yourself. Because you, too, are part of this collective.’
Meghan also revealed that when the process of working on the issue began, she was five months pregnant — and now that it’s out, she has Archie at home.
‘It’s a very special time for me personally, on so many levels; working with Edward and his team, both during my pregnancy and my maternity leave, has played no small part in that joy — it has been a privilege to be welcomed and supported by this amazing team,’ she said.
As part of her work with the magazine, Meghan interviewed Michelle Obama, who she describes as ‘extraordinary’. She said the interview with the former US first lady was ‘a candid and heartfelt conversation’.
Other faces appearing on the cover include New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda, Laverne Cox, model and mental health campaigner Adwoa Aboah, and former refugee and model Adut Akech.
There’s also former refugee and boxer Ramla Ali, diversity advocate Sinéad Burke, actor Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek Pinault, and Royal Ballet principal dancer and actress Francesca Hayward.
Finally, there’s Christy Turlington Burns, actress Yara Shahidi, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and actress and activist Jameela Jamil.
Jameela, 33, gushed about the cover and the Duchess herself in a Today show interview this morning.
Such a fan! Jameela Jamil spoke about talking to Meghan Markle on the phone, saying: ‘I b****y love her’
‘I b****y love her. I think she’s fantastic.’
Jameela, who has been an outspoken advocate for body positivity, diversity, and having healthy attitudes about food and eating, was thrilled to be personally chosen by Meghan to appear in the special issue.
She was also excited to speak to the woman herself.
‘It was an incredible honor to get to talk to her over the phone,’ she said. ‘She’s very gracious and kind and warm and intelligent. So I think I’ll probably never forget this as long as I live.’
Speaking with Meghan and being recognized her was one thing. But for Jameela, it was also an incredible privilege to nab a Vogue cover — and the September issue, no less.
‘I remember being a teenage model when I was 15 starving myself thinking that would bring me success or something like a cover of Vogue,’ she said.
‘And it’s so amazing to find myself, 20 years later, and 30lbs. heavier, actually being on the cover.
While information about the issue is still rolling out, a video posted to the official Sussex Instagram page today shows a visibly pregnant Meghan alongside Enninful as they put the finishing touches to the magazine.
The post says the Duchess spent the last seven months creating ‘an issue of inclusivity and inspiration, focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us.’
She said she wanted to focus on the ‘women she admires’ from the ‘frontline of fashion, film, tech and wellness’.
The Duchess of Sussex interviews Michelle Obama
Meghan interviewed the former first lady herself for British Vogue‘s September issue.
You sent me the kindest message on Mother’s Day this year. What has motherhood taught you?
‘Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried — especially at first,’ she said.
‘What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters.
‘In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different,’ she went on. [But] they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths.
What advice do you give your daughters?
‘Don’t just check the boxes you think you’re supposed to check, like I did when I was their age. I tell them that I hope they’ll keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right.
‘And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today. That’s OK – it’s good, even.
‘When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people. It took me a few years to listen to my intuition and find a path that fit better for who I was, inside and out.
If you were sitting down with your 15-year-old self, what do you think she would tell you, seeing who you have become today?
‘I love this question. I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book — straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself.
‘So I imagine that she’d be proud of how far I’ve come — but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either,’ she said.
‘She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them.
‘If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.’