There is a look on page 312 that sums up what Edward Enninful, in his first editor’s letter, calls “your new Vogue”. A model with tightly braided hair strolls on a gritty pavement past Arnold Circus, east London’s most picturesquely down-at-heel estate, in vintage Kappa trackpants and a North Face rucksack with a cashmere Ralph Lauren coat price-tagged at £2,600. The new Vogue is a bit less posh and a bit more cool. But it is still very much Vogue.
I was worried that now that it is being edited by a stylist, there would be nothing to read. I’m not any more, because December’s Vogue is worth your £3.99 purely for the last paragraph of Zadie Smith on the Queen, in which she recounts what happened when she and Kate Moss met her majesty at Buckingham Palace. Smith’s aweless take on the iconography of a “distinctly lower middle-class” monarch, which lists the things we know “Mrs Windsor” (not Her Majesty) to look kindly on as “EastEnders, Cornflakes, most cakes, gin and Dubonnet (but no fancy wines and nothing gourmet)” sets a warm but iconoclastic tone. That is echoed later in the issue by Steve McQueen’s love letter to Britain (“zebra crossings, skinheads, tweed, Winnie the Pooh, the NHS, Joe Orton, Kenneth Williams, corner shops”).
The new Vogue is about 50% more real. There are Remain placards and ragged Union Jacks photographed by Juergen Teller, and Daphne Guinness talking about the miners’ strike. Annabels nightclub is in there, but south London is better represented than Mayfair: Naomi Campbell and Sadiq Khan reminisce about growing up in Tooting and Streatham; Glenda Jackson is on a bench in Blackheath; and John Galliano catches the No 12 bus from Elephant & Castle. There is an eyes-on-stalks tour of Matthew Freud’s Primrose Hill mansion, yet Victoria Beckham is photographed in her suburban childhood home where her bedroom was “a Laura Ashley wallpapered sanctuary from the school bullies who tormented her, lined with empty Chanel bottles for glamour”. Jonathan Anderson revisits his teenage classroom in Magherafelt in Northern Ireland; Burberry’s Christopher Bailey walks the Leeds Liverpool canal towpath.
There is a recipe for lobster thermidor, but also one for Molly Goddard’s favourite festive dish of Ferrero Rocher on toast. There is a £125 Topshop skirt next to a £3,730 Céline bag. (There is still a lot of Céline. Some things are sacred.) There is a real and thrilling diversity of point of view: Salman Rushdie writes about Christmas in a multi-faith family, Skepta about the specificity of the black British experience (“Americans think there’s no struggle for black people in Britain. They just think it’s all nice and the Queen gives us money”).
There is still, however, plenty of the old Vogue world. There are corgis and hounds; Chanel modelled by Lady Jean Campbell and her sister Edie; a Tennant (Stella’s chestnut stuffing); garden trugs; and both Delevingnes (Poppy on thank-you letters and Sunday roasts, Cara on Fabric and squat parties on Park Lane). Oh, and bonus points if you can spot the goddaughter of Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, wife of Condé Nast International owner Jonathan: that’s Adwoa Aboah, cover girl. Vogue is dead, long live Vogue.