January 20, 2021

Why a Vogue Cover Created an Uproar Over Kamala Harris

It’s been a busy week for Vogue and Anna Wintour. I spoke with her last Friday about her 32-year tenure as editor-in-chief of Vogue. We also discussed the February cover featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. But the very next day, the February cover photo leaked and the internet reacted — and not in a good way. In the photo, Harris is standing in front of a green and pink backdrop in a black jacket, skinny pants and converse sneakers, which have become famous in social media. The Twitter reactions I saw were overwhelmingly negative. Some took issue with the styling and the pose, others with the lighting. When we spoke last week, Wintour told me that she found the cover welcoming and relaxed. But the general consensus online was that it was too casual, that it did not rise to the historic occasion of the first woman Vice President, the first Black woman Vice President — that it was disrespectful. It certainly didn’t bode well for Conde Nast or for Wintour, who has been here before, having been accused of racially insensitive coverage and workplace discrimination by some of her staff just seven months ago.

According to people familiar with the matter on both sides, there was not a written formal agreement in place. These people also say the Vice President-elect’s team had an expectation of a different cover— one in which Harris is wearing a blue suit and standing in front of a gold backdrop. It’s a more stately and serious photo, and one that is clearly more fitting for a Vice President. By Sunday, that photo was released as a digital cover, along with the one that was originally leaked. At the time of this recording, people familiar with the matter said the photo with the sneakers will be the only physical cover. They added that Vogue is considering using the more formal portrait in a second print edition.

After the cover leaked, I went back to Wintour for comment. She said, quote, obviously, we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover, and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to in any way diminish the importance of the Vice President-elect’s incredible victory. We want nothing but to celebrate Vice President-elect Harris’s amazing victory and the important moment this is in America’s history, and particularly for women of color, all over the world. She also said, there was no formal agreement about what the choice of the cover would be. And 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, which we are in the midst- as we still are — 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 real, really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign and everything that they are trying to — and, I’m sure, will achieve. I’m not exactly sure with the pandemic has to do with it. But here’s my conversation with Anna Wintour. And just as a reminder, again, this interview was recorded before the cover leaked.

Can you tell me about the cover shoot, and how you got her to do this?

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/style/kamala-harris-vogue.html

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