Fashioning Change

AUGUST 2020 SAW NO SOCA FLOATS sliding along West London’s Ladbroke Grove. No pink feathered wings or giant plumes of headwear. The Notting Hill Carnival was canceled, like all mass gatherings in late COVID lockdown, the streets still spare, the air still choked with grief. No curry goat or jerk pan smoke rose up into the city trees. And the music, the great churning music of the Caribbean islands, of Black Britain, of Africa and the Americas, did not thump to the foundations of the neighborhood terraces, making them tremble.

All of this would have been part of a normal summer for Edward Enninful while growing up in the area in the 1980s. His mother Grace might look out of the window of her sewing room in their house right on the Carnival route, and see some manifestation of Trinidad going by, or a reggae crew, wrapped in amazing sculptures of bikini and shiny hosiery. Edward, one of six siblings, would stay out late and take it in, all that sound and spectacle, which for decades has been the triumphant annual pinnacle of London’s cultural and racial multiplicity.

It was this world that nurtured his creativity and helped shape the vision he has brought to the pages of since being appointed editor in chief in 2017. “I was always othered,” Enninful says on a nostalgic walk through the streets of Ladbroke Grove, a much gentrified, still bohemian part to normalize the marginalized, because if you don’t see it, you don’t think it’s normal.”

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