British Vogue Nicki Knight Nicki Knight

So here it is, Vogue’s big fashion special, our definitive 400-page guide to everything you’ll want to buy, wear, admire and be inspired by as a new season dawns. As you know, September issues are important in the fashion world, our largest and most lavish of the year and a real statement about what the coming months will bring. With this one being my first as editor-in-chief, I was determined it would be something special.

On top of providing an indispensable guide to the clothes and trends that will define autumn 2018, I wanted these pages to act as a marker for everything that is exciting and varied about the times we live in. Essentially, we are taking you on a journey – from our offices in central London, where I invited Bajan superstar Rihanna earlier this summer to talk diva-dom and diversity, to Royal Lodge in Windsor, where Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie welcomed Vogue into the heart of the Royal family.

On a trip home to Richmond, North Yorkshire, supermodel-in-the-making Fran Summers takes us on a tour of the sights that shaped her, from her local state school to the fish-and-chip shop, while Elton John had us join him and fashion BFF Alessandro Michele at his famously luxurious home near London one memorable Sunday morning. We even dispatched photographers Mert and Marcus to a disused quarry in Kent to shoot an homage to ’90s rave culture – what could be more British than that? And there’s plenty more besides.

I am so grateful to the talented photographers who made all this possible. For the first time in some years, David Sims returns to the pages of Vogue to shoot the best of the season’s new oversized pieces. David is someone I’ve known since 1990. What I adore about his work is that it’s always British, always irreverent and always chic with a touch of the avant-garde. Nick Knight – one of the original masters – has also been busy too, shooting, among other things, our cover story with me. He never gets fazed by anything you throw at him. I’ll say, “Let’s do flowers in the hair”, “Let’s do thin eyebrows” – and he remains perfectly cool. Meanwhile, Charlotte Wales brings her unique point of view on women to bear in The Age of Opulence, showing how beautiful – and beautifully dressed – you can be at any size.

Then there are the incredible fashion editors – from the legendary Grace Coddington to our own Venetia Scott, Kate Phelan and Poppy Kane, and rising star Julia Sarr-Jamois, who joins Vogue this month as fashion editor-at-large. Julia is someone I’ve long admired – she used to be a model and has a great personal style. Whatever she wears is revered by her audience on social media, so it’s terrific to have her join the team. Each month she’ll be curating her own page of recommendations and inspirations for you to devour and she also styled our Polo Ralph Lauren special this issue (complete with a horse).

Ultimately, September is all about the hits of the season – giving you, the Vogue reader, the authority to make the most informed style choices for the months ahead. As for the cover? I always knew it had to be Rihanna. A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her. No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery. She is always Rihanna. There’s a lesson for us all in that. Whichever way you choose to dress the new season, take a leaf out of her book and be yourself.