L'Uomo Vogue's May issue delves into a topic rarely explored by fashion magazines: World politics. In fact, the whole issue is dedicated to the "rebranding of Africa", and features the unlikely cover star of 67-year-old Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the UN.
According to a press release, the issue will "present a new portrait of an Africa that is positive, creative and confident of its own strengths," in an effort to shed the continent's image of war and famine, which is consistently presented by the media. It's true that those strifes are still a part of Africa's overall identity, but, as L'Uomo Vogue reaffirms, there's much, much more to the continent, such as growing textile and oil industries, fledgling modern cities and a fast advancing education system. Not to mention the continent (Nigeria specifically) is home to the world's third largest movie-making area after Hollywood and Bollywood, fittingly dubbed "Nollywood," and an up-and-coming fashion scene, which has been making headlines as of late. And it's these exciting developments which L'Uomo Vogue's May issue aims to celebrate.
"The whole issue is packed with portraits of local personalities: not just presidents, first ladies and queens, but also artists, singers, musicians, actors, stylists, writers, models – every one of whom has been portrayed in a positive light," editor Franca Sozzani said. "They all agreed to take part in the issue precisely because presenting a positive image of the continent means focusing world attention on an area that has been hitherto excluded, with the exception of a number of countries where development has been possible thanks to tourism. But each of the African nations is endowed with enormous potential."
"Africa does not need charity," cover star Ki-moon says. "Africa needs investment and partnership. Joining forces with civil society and private sector, including non-traditional players, like the fashion industry, has become indispensable. Sustainable development is my top priority."
L'Uomo Vogue's Africa issue comes at a time when more and more people, the fashion industry included, are looking to the continent as a fresh source of inspiration and innovation. "L'Uomo Vogue's Rebranding Africa issue is an idea whose time has come," Fashionista contributor and founder of Africa Style Daily Zandile Blay said. "From fashion to film to politics, the continent is in the midst of a total makeover so Franca Sozzani and L'Uomo Vogue are right to document it." This new issue also solidifies Sozzani as an editor who is passionate about promoting diversity in fashion--You'll remember, it was Sozzani who was behind the groundbreaking all black Vogue Italia back in 2008.
But Blay says that coverage on Africa's "makeover"--like the kind we'll see L'Uomo Vogue's May issue--is too few and far between. "As an American editor I find it disappointing that only European publications are delving so deeply into the topic," she said. "Where are the US publications in this global conversation?"
Hopefully they won't be too far behind.
Click through for more images from the new issue.