Following backlash of Vogue's "casual" and "washed out" photo of Kamala Harris, the magazine will print a special edition with a more "presidential" image of the Vice President.
Ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris's swearing-in ceremony, American Vogue honored her with a cover story. When the edition was released, however, the magazine was widely criticized for the "washed out" and casual photos of Harris. After all, the first woman of color to become Vice President is a momentous occasion, and many felt the former Senator deserved a cover that reflected that. Therefore, the magazine will soon release a special edition inaugural issue to better commemorate the historic moment. The decision to do so was announced on their website, with similar messages across their social media platforms, CNN reports.
Vogue announced online, "In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover, and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special edition inaugural issues." The alternative cover, which features Harris in a powder blue pant suit against a gold background, was more widely preferred. This version was originally created for the magazine's digital edition, but it will now be featured in the limited print run. The photo was taken by Tyler Mitchell, who also captured the more casual photograph with Harris in a black jacket and Converse sneakers. Mitchell was the first Black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover. He shot Beyoncé for the magazine's September issue in the year 2018.
Both fashion critics and social media users suggested the casual photo was "disrespectful" to the newly-appointed Vice President. Notably, Washington Post's senior critic-at-large Robin Givhan wrote that Vogue had "robbed Harris of her roses" when they chose the more laidback photo. Others claimed the image was poorly lit as it washed out Harris's Black skin. Playwright and lawyer Wajahat Ali claimed that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour "must really not have Black friends and colleagues." Some accused the magazine of perpetuating anti-Blackness; by essentially lightening Harris's skin, they whitewashed her in order to maintain the Eurocentric "glamor" associated with Vogue.
Opinion | Vogue’s Kamala Harris cover shows that diminishing powerful Black women is still in fashion https://t.co/Q0jKtmB9NH— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 14, 2021
In response, Wintour defended the choice. She argued that the casual photo was appropriate for the current political climate. "When the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the Vice President-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in," she asserted in a statement to the New York Times last week. "We are in the midst of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute, and we felt to reflect this tragic moment in global history, a much less formal picture, something that was very, very accessible, and approachable, and really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign."
While we’re all still talking fashion, may I direct you to @SpeakPatrice with A Tale of Two Covers: Teen Vogue’s Cori Bush shoot, Vogue’s Kamala catastrophe and why the difference mattershttps://t.co/ft01JfsPpA— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) January 20, 2021
The editor-in-chief added that there had been "no formal agreement" to use the formal image on the cover, which Harris's team had initially believed would have appeared on the print edition, sources familiar with the discussions shared. While the Vice President may have been robbed of her moment to shine in the spotlight, the blue and gold cover has been highly praised for its "presidential" and "more appropriate" look and feel. Only a "limited quantity" of magazines will be printed with the alternative cover. They will only be made available in the United States. You can purchase your own copy here.