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How Anna Wintour masterminded an 'epic photo op' with Queen Elizabeth and made Vogue rival Edward Enninful cry: exclusive

An excerpt from a brand-new afterword from Amy Odell's 'Anna: A Biography' reveals how Vogue's queen orchestrated a viral fashion show hang with the Queen in 2018

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour smile as they sit front row at Richard Quinn's runway show in London.
Justin Ravitz
Justin RavitzEditorial Director, U.S.New York
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When Anna Wintour sat, smiled, giggled and whispered beside Queen Elizabeth in the front row at Richard Quinn's London Fashion Week runway show in February 2018, the headlines and captions practically wrote themselves. 'The Queen of Fashion Pals Around with the Queen of England', 'Game Recognizes Game', 'Squad Goals', 'Royal Besties', 'Game of Thrones', 'The Crown(s)', etc. 

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour chat in the front row at the Richard Quinn London Fashion Week show in February 2018,© Getty
Richard Quinn's show was Her Majesty's first-ever appearance at London Fashion Week

The Richard Quinn show was, in fact, the Queen's first-ever appearance at London Fashion Week, and her attendance was a shocking last-minute surprise. The occasion: to present emerging designer Richard Quinn with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.  Her Majesty, then 91, wore a duck egg blue tweed dress and jacket by Angela Kelly. Anna, who was made a Dame the year prior, wore her trademark sunglasses (breaking royal protocol), floral print midi dress, and brown leather boots. (On the other side of the Queen for the historic day was British Fashion Council Chief Executive Caroline Rush.)

Queen Elizabeth is flanked by Anna Wintour and Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, as they sit front row at a London fashion show in February 2018© Getty
The Vogue EIC hadn't planned on attending the event but got a "personal tip" that Queen Elizabeth would be on hand.

But, as is often the case when it concerns Wintour — Vogue's long-running Editor-in-Chief — the viral, much-photographed moment was brilliantly choreographed behind the scenes, and left a significant casualty in its wake: Edward Enninful, then the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, who was often tagged in the press as Anna's likeliest successor as the top editor at American Vogue. (Spoiler alert: Edward is now out, and Anna, 73, remains atop her perch 35 years on with no apparent plans to retire.)

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour sit front row at Richard Quinn's runway show in London.© Getty
Anna's rival, British Vogue's Edward Enninful was evidently "so upset" to have missed the moment.
Queen Elizabeth is greeted by Anna Wintour and a crowd of well wishers at a London fashion show in February 2018.© Getty
UK-born Anna was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) the previous year for services to fashion and journalism.

In this exclusive excerpt from a new afterword of the paperback edition of Anna: A Biography — a masterful New York Times bestselling biography of the media and fashion titan's life and legacy so far— author and journalist Amy Odell sheds surprising new light on Anna and The Queen's front row confab.

Positive buzz around Enninful, British Vogue's first Black editor-in-chief, and his vision of showcasing diversity escalated quickly — but so did his tension with Anna. On February 20, 2018, Enninful attended a dinner in Milan with Newhouse for the Italian high-end puffy coat brand Moncler. That same day, Anna was photographed at Richard Quinn's fashion show seated next to Queen Elizabeth. A notice had gone out previously that a member of the royal family would attend the event. Usually, such notices concerned lesser royals, but Anna—who hadn't planned to go — got a personal tip from a member of the British Fashion Council that it would be the Queen. So she went and got that epic photo op, leaving Enninful so upset that Anna had gotten both the tip and the pictures that he was said to have cried. [Then-Chief Executive of Conde Nast Jonathan] Newhouse scolded Anna for not sharing the information about the Queen—but it didn't matter. Condé Nast International merged with Condé Nast in New York shortly thereafter, ultimately leaving Anna with the title of chief content officer, worldwide, and global editorial director of Vogue. While Enninful ultimately took on oversight of European Vogues (including France, Spain, Germany, and Italy), Anna was, once again, his boss.

RELATED: What Bill Nighy has said about his rumored romance with Anna Wintour

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British Vogue's Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour had a tense relationship; he left his role as Editor in Chief in June 2023© Ryan Emberley/amfAR
British Vogue's Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour had a tense relationship; he left his role as Editor in Chief in June 2023

Alas, like every one of Anna's rumored successors before Enninful, he didn't last: On June 2, 2023, he told his staff he would be moving to "the newly appointed position of editorial advisor of British Vogue and global creative and cultural advisor of Vogue" as of 2024, and would help with onboarding a new "head of editorial content" to replace him. Condé Nast positioned it as a "promotion" that would enable Enninful to take on outside projects, but it was clear to former high-ranking Vogue employees that he had been pushed out. Anna's Vogue team had already been working on international editions run by downsized teams, with Zoom calls scheduled for all hours of the night. Enninful leaving would only bolster that oversight…Enninful had miscalculated, expecting that Anna would have moved on by 2023.

The cover image of Anna: A Biography by Amy Odell
The paperback edition of Anna: The Biography goes on sale Tuesday, September 5. Written by journalist Amy Odell, the book was an acclaimed New York Times bestseller upon its initial May 2022 release.

The paperback edition of Anna: The Biography goes on sale Tuesday, September 5. Published by Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster.

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