UPDATE: This post has been edited to remove Jourdan Dunn from the below list as it has been revealed that she is British Vogue’s February cover model. Definitely a step in the right direction although she does look eerily whitewashed. Lets put it down to the Instagram filter right?
As we bring in the new year and move into the future, it is only expected that we reflect back on the past. Vogue, both its US & UK editions, rather innocently posted an image of all of their covers from the year of 2014. However, this move prompted much backlash. Why? Because of the lack of model diversity. For British Vogue, there were zero women-of-colour; for American, there were just a few (including Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o and Joan Smalls who was on the multi-model September issue cover). British Vogue has no excuse. They had 2 Kate Moss covers, 2 Cara Delevingne covers and actually, to their credit, a few models – but no non-whites. It may seem slightly trivial to call such attention to a matter as, seemingly, small as models on a magazine cover but really it is a big deal. Now, I do think it would be slightly unfair to call the Vogue staffers racist but their actions aren’t far off. It is not like there is any shortage of beautiful women-of-colour out there: talented models, actresses, and singers.
Can we call this racism? I think so. Unfortunately, 2014 was the year that we all realised that racism really isn’t dead. I rather naively thought that it wasn’t as rampant as it was 50 years ago but have been proven completely wrong. The high profile cases of police brutality against blacks in the USA have brought global attention to the issue and have led to widespread outcry. It is so fucked up, that’s the only way I can describe it. When you highlight major issues like that, it sounds rather silly to complain about models on a magazine cover but it is actually a major issue in its own right. In Britain, we are a very multicultural society; even more so in London, where British Vogue is based. From looking at the magazine covers from the past year, you would never know. There is zero representation of anybody that is not white and that really doesn’t make sense. I mean, at least American Vogue did a little bit better but really, it is still not good enough.
Instead of harping on about race issues, something that I feel completely under-qualified to do, I am going to suggest some suitable models/celebrities who I think are deserving of a cover. As I have said previously, there are plenty of women-of-colour who could/would/should be on the cover of Vogue but I am going to offer up a few suggestions.
- Naomi Campbell – It seems insane to even have to suggest Naomi, especially since she is one of the biggest supermodels ever. She is on the same level as Kate Moss, I’d say, who had 2 covers this year and countless editorials all throughout. Just to let you know, Naomi hasn’t had a British Vogue cover since the August 2002 issue.
- Imaan Hammam – Technically she has already graced the cover of Vogue in the past year but it was a multi-model cover and this time around she deserves a solo. I think Imaan is one of the most stunning models of recent and clearly has success ahead of her. She is Dutch but of Egyptian and Moroccan descent and has what is perhaps the best hair in fashion at the moment (those curls!!). PS – She’s in the Givenchy campaign this season which I have another post coming up about…
- Malaika Firth – Another British model who has only made it big in the past year or two, Malaika has walked many shows and has fronted campaigns for Burberry (alongside Cara Delevingne) and Prada, where she was the first black model to star in a Prada campaign in almost 20 years.
- Kerry Washington – Perhaps one of the most stunning actresses EVER, Kerry Washington has held her own in her part in the US-TV drama Scandal, a role in which she has received much acclaim (An Emmy, A SAG & A Golden Globe). She also made it onto TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World list in 2014.
- Beyonce & Solange – This seems a bit too dreamlike but how amazing would a Beyonce & Solange shared cover be? The sisters would contrast each other with their totally different styles (Solange, edgy and very-much fashion/Beyonce, laid back and casual). Also, everybody knows that Beyonce rules the entire world so why not share some of that with her sister?