The word “influencer” gets bounced around the fashion industry as often and superficially as “major.” Bloggers, editors, YouTubers, models with a certain number of Instagram followers—they’re all considered influencers. Two decades ago, however, the number of likes you got on a selfie wasn’t a measure of influence, because the word “selfie” didn’t even exist. To be a real tastemaker, there was a complicated set of factors that had to fall into place, and those who figured it out struck gold. Two of those people are supermodel Naomi Campbell and stylist Edward Enninful. Campbell needs no introduction, and if you know anything about fashion, neither does Enninful, but the pair is part of a rarified group of fashion’s elite that’s stayed consistent and relevant over the years while adapting with the times. Exhibit A: to celebrate Enninful’s 25th anniversary in the industry, he collaborated with Beats by Dre (on a set of headphones so cool that you can’t actually buy them, sorry) and Nick Knight (on the coolest fashion film I’ve seen in awhile). It’s full of his friends—Kate Moss, Lara Stone, and Karlie Kloss, to name a casual few. “I like to use the word ‘muse’ because [these women] provide endless inspiration. When they happen to be friends, it’s even better,” he told me in a recent interview to promote the film. His pal-slash-muse Campbell was there to support, and we chatted about the changes in the industry they’ve witnessed over the course of their careers, their take on social media, and recent beauty obsessions. Read on for the full video and my conversation with two people who are more than just influencers—they’re legends.
Edward and Naomi on the Seven Deadly Sins, the Internet and Social Media…
Enninful: The idea is the Seven Deadly Sins, which is something quite biblical, but I wanted to take it out of the religious context and put it into the world of technology. We all love the internet—it’s great for research—but the Seven Deadly Sins are definitely alive in it. The internet trolls in Jourdan [Dunn]’s portion are Envy, and with endless selfies, there’s Pride. Sex apps—that’s Lust. I could go on and on. It was a fun thing to play on.
Allure: With the introduction of social media and technology, so much has changed over the course of your careers. From this, do you think the lens of the world has matured from overexposure? Immature?
Enninful: There’s definitely oversaturation, which is what the video is about. People have become desensitized, but I also know the world has to progress rather than regress. When Naomi and I started, it was smaller and more intimate. You got to learn your craft—it was a different time. Today, there’s a lot to take in, but out of that, you can also curate what you want. I really believe that.
Allure: It’s like there are more options in a way. Do you think Instagram is a big part of that through democratizing fashion and beauty?
Enninful: Instagram was a turning point, wasn’t it?
Campbell: And Facebook and Twitter.
Enninful: And Snapchat!
Campbell: I’m happy about the way I learned my stepping stones. I wouldn’t want to change anything or turn back the clocks. Would you?
Campbell: We were grafters.
Allure: I feel like it was harder then.
Campbell: It was! And it’s better to know we could do it that way. You had to really work for any job you chose.
Enninful: The modeling industry has changed so much because there are certain girls who come with so many followers. When a company books them, they automatically know what they’re bringing. That sense of naivety is gone. When you were booked by Azzedine [Alaïa] or Karl [Lagerfeld], it was a different time.
Even With Instagram, Inspiration Doesn’t Come Easy…
Allure: How has the idea of beauty changed over the course of your careers?
Enninful: Personally, it hasn’t really changed that much. The girls I loved, I still love.
Campbell: You’re very loyal to your girls. You may add to your girls but you never defect from them.
Enninful: Well, I don’t get inspired easily. It’s not like anyone can come in and just inspire you. It takes a minute.
Allure: I wonder if many might disagree now, though, because you can discover random people on Instagram and immediately feel some sort of inspiration.
Enninful: For me, it’s more than that. It’s more than how a person looks. It’s their spirit and how they interact with the world. There are so many factors. So many girls are incredibly beautiful, but you have to get a sense of something special.
Allure: And Naomi is the perfect example. Proof that consistency is relevant—because you’ve always been quintessentially Naomi.
On Being Influencers Before It Was a Buzzword
Allure: Outside of your group of muses, where do you find inspiration?
Enninful: Everywhere! Through art, music, the streets, books. Now, it’s easier to get to that book you once had to search for [laughs].
Campbell: I remember when Edward would say, “I’m going to freeze outside to get inspired for some stories,” when he was working for i-D and Italian Vogue and I was like, Why is he going to freeze to be inspired for a fashion story? But I get it now. I learn so much from you.
Allure: Influencer is such a buzzword right now. Everyone’s an influencer, but you two are the original influencers.
Campbell: Great influencers come out of England.
Enninful: [Laughs] I didn’t say that!
Campbell: I said it! Edward, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Kate [Moss], Twiggy, David Bowie, Boy George.
Allure: Why do you think that is?
Enninful: The English have a class society. There’s a sense of one-upmanship. Whether it’s music or fashion, you want to do better than your friend is doing. You want to customize more. It’s in the English nature to do one better and we’re encouraged to push things.
Allure: Edward, It’s interesting how this film is so purely your vision, but your vision we’re most familiar with is in print form. Do you feel like technology has helped you express yourself?
Enninful: Anything that can help in the storytelling or narrative process is great for me. Whether it’s still photography or film, if you love imagery, you’ll embrace it. I’m not scared of it and there’s nothing I won’t try. It’s that kid-like sense of curiosity I was telling you about before.
Latest Beauty Find?
Allure: Finally, what’s the last beauty product you fell in love with?
Campbell: I’m obsessed with this face cream called Rescue*. I’ve been using it every day and everyone tells me my skin looks great. I read about it somewhere and I called up the company and tried it. I’ll give them their props.
Enninful: I have very sensitive skin.
Campbell: Want some Rescue [laughs]? I’m also obsessed with Burberry lip gloss. It’s not sticky, it has a nice texture, it’s not too heavy—it’s just nice. It’s like a ‘70s lip gloss. Remember those roll-ons? Can you get those anymore?
Allure: The flavored ones?
Campbell: Yes! The cherry-flavored ones! I loved the roll-ons.
*We’re still confirming exactly which moisturizer this—and as soon as we do, we’ll update this post.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
PHOTO: MIKE MARSLAND/WIREIMAGE
The Seven Deadly Sins of Edward Enninful, a SHOWstudio Film Presented by Beats by Dre: