The R&B production company Foster & McElroy wanted to create a female vocal group that had certain qualities. Thomas McElroy said, "We wanted the girls to be beautiful, but not too beautiful… Intelligent, but not nerds or anything." As a result, the all-female quartet known as En Vogue was formed in 1989 in Oakland, California. The vocalists chosen were Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson, and Terry Ellis. Cindy Herron was crowned Miss San Francisco in 1986 and second runner up in the 1986 Miss California pageant before she auditioned for the group. All four of the original members of En Vogue had previously been involved with acting and performing, and had been acquaintances before beating out the competition during the auditions for En Vogue.
En Vogue was repeatedly compared to the '60s female vocal group, the Supremes, even though En Vogue proclaimed that they did not have a lead singer or star of the group. The four members of En Vogue considered themselves to all be equals in the group, a radical difference from the Motown groups who preceded them. Also En Vogue was more famous for the fashionable attire, which was strikingly modern, as well as their influence as a powerful group of females.
After receiving a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1990 for their debut album Born to Sing, En Vogue achieved superstar status. That same year, En Vogue shot a commercial for Diet Coke that was directed by Spike Lee. Also, Cindy Herron earned a role as Yolanda in the 1992 movie Juice, which starred Tupac Shakur. Then in 1993 En Vogue performed at the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton. After singing along with Clinton's brother Roger, the President himself had a meeting with the group.
For their second album, Funky Divas, En Vogue struck gold with three singles that went to the Top Ten: "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)", "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," and "Free Your Mind." As a result, the quartet earned an endorsement deal with the shoe manufacturer Converse. En Vogue also toured as the opening act for Luther Vandross. Even though En Vogue gained a lot of positive attention from fans in Eastern Europe, they were not on the same page as Vandross, who later stated that he would never agree to work with them again. The group left the tour early, citing Herron's pregnancy as the reason.
En Vogue gave off the impression to the public that they were always having a great time as a group. Dawn Robinson said, "We are just like sisters. We love each other. [While on tour] we hang out, eat junk food, and watch the shows from the night before." However, in 1997 Robinson left the group, joining Dr. Dre's Aftermath label as a solo artist. The group carried on as a trio and have had sporadic reunions since.