Beyonce graces Vogue’s powerful September issue in a shoot lensed by Tyler Mitchell, the first African-American to photograph the magazine’s cover in its 125 year history.
On one cover (above), Mrs. Carter poses serenely in a floral headdress by Rebel Rebel, a Lynn Ban headpiece, and a frothy white ruffled Gucci dress. On another, she holds a sheet up high while modeling an Alexander McQueen frock and corset along with Lynn Ban earrings.
Inside the article, she tells writer Clover Hope the importance of Opening Doors, saying, “When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.”
She continues, “It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter…I pray that I’m doing all I can to open doors for the next generation of talents.”
Beyonce’s words are beautiful, as is her shoot, styled by Tonne Goodman in looks by Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Dior. But while she proudly highlighted Vogue’s use of an African-American photographer, she was not styled in one African-American designer in the highly lauded ‘September issue’ of the country’s most revered fashion magazine. Vogue’s only representation of talent from the African diaspora is a suit by Wales Bonner, a biracial designer from London.
Perhaps this omission would have been overlooked in past issues of Vogue (this is Beyonce’s fourth cover for the magazine, and her 2nd September issue). Never before has she accompanied her covers with an article that touches on the importance of opening doors for the next generation of African-American talent.
But since the spotlight has been thrust on the issue of diversity in fashion, it would seem fitting that the magazine showcase the talent of a young African-American designer.
American Vogue has become more diverse over the years, featuring African-American women on the cover more frequently and also now giving an African-American photographer a chance behind the lens. Their support of African-American designers, especially for an American fashion magazine, could certainly be better. As an authority on fashion, why touch on the topic of ‘Opening Doors’ without opening the doors to African-American designers? And what better canvas than a Queen like Beyonce?
What do you think?
*For a list of African-American designers and designers from the African diaspora, check out our (incomplete) list here.