Edward Enninful condemns lack of diverse models during Fashion Month

British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful has said that watching the past month’s fashion shows has been like stepping “into a time machine”, due to the lack of different-sized models on the runway.

Enninful, who is also the European editorial director of Conde Nast, shared the April 2023 cover of British Vogue on his Instagram and hailed cover models Paloma Elsesser, Precious Lee and Jilla Kortleve as the fashion industry’s “brightest stars”.

He spoke of his pride in having the three models, who are all deemed “plus-size”, but took the opportunity to reflect on how Fashion Month transpired this year.

“Like many editors, I recently returned from Fashion Month, but honestly I thought I had gotten into a time machine,” Enninful wrote.

“Show after show dominated by one body type, so many limited versions of womanhood, it felt like we were slipping back.”

He also referred to the recent awards season, which saw numerous stars step out onto the red carpet. Many stars displayed drastic weight loss, which is often unofficially credited to Ozempic, a diabetes drug that has become popular among the Hollywood elite as a weight loss solution.

“From runways in Milan and New York, to the red carpets of the recent awards season, we all saw it happen: one prescribed notion of beauty prevailed again, and it felt like the reality of so many women around the world were being ignored,” Enninful continued.

“But how can you ignore perfection like these three [Elsesse, Lee and Kortleve]? This cover wasn’t conceived to be a ‘statement’. It is simply Vogue: the most charismatic models of the moment, in important fashion, embodying the mood of now.

“Like the supermodels who came before them, Jill, Precious and Paloma are what fashion means today. From their spirit to their beauty, they are the ones setting the real tone of the times.”

Enninful’s observations come after brands faced criticism for appearing to dial back on body inclusivity on the runway, with thin models dominating the catwalks.

In its Autumn/Winter 2023 size inclusivity report, released earlier this week, Vogue Business analysed all shows and presentations to determine the representation on display and noted that “there’s a long way to go”.

The report found that, of more than 9,100 looks from 219 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, only 0.6 per cent were plus-size (larger than US14/UK16) and 3.8 per cent were mid-size (US6-12/UK8-14).

This meant the vast majority (95.6 per cent) of looks presented this Fashion Month were in a size US0-4/UK4-6.

Only 17 brands featured at least one plus-sized look in their AW23 collections. The brands with the highest percentage of plus-size models were Sinead O’Dwyer, Ester Manas, Karoline Vitto, Di Petsa and Bach Mai, while brands that had zero percentage of plus-sized looks included Christian Dior, Ottolinger, CFCL, Vivienne Westwood, Chloe and Coperni.